Hungary seems to be making many 'dark turns' early in 2015 - and the issue of immigration is only one of them. The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, used the stage offered by the “Charlie Hebdo” solidarity march in Paris to attack legal residents and citizens in his own country: immigrants and muslims.
While I am PM, Hungary will definitely not become an immigration destination. We don't want to see significantly sized minorities with different cultural characteristics and backgrounds among us. We want to keep Hungary as Hungary"
— Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary 2015.01 (emphasis added)
And, regarding the second attack on the kosher food store, it has been less emphasised in the media that an immigrant from Mali (and a Muslim) who happened to be inside the store during the attack heroically escorted Jewish customers into a store freezer for safety during the massacre. While we don’t think that the debate should be reduced to “good muslims” and “bad muslims”, it is certainly remarkable how quick the media is to promote negative stereotypes of islam.
It is curious how neither the mainstream media nor Prime Minister Orbán and other European leaders highlight the heroism of this young immigrant for saving European lives. It seems that Hungarian politicians will not let these facts get in the way of an opportunity to bash Hungary's new officially declared 'Others' - immigrants and Muslims. Sadly, our Prime Minister has hijacked the words Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité to promote fear mongering and scapegoating Hungary's own minorities.
Orbán has used the Paris tragedy to prove how 'pro-EU' he is by supporting 'new machineries' for a 'stronger' Fortress Europe. He does this today to distract from his own policies that have neglected Hungary's NATO duties and avoiding of EU obligations. His new ‘pro-Europe’ stance comes just a few weeks before he receives a visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After these and other comments, now other Fidesz (the ruling party of Hungary) leaders chime in with their leader's statements, and are pushing the boundaries of rhetoric and common sense even further. Fidesz's parliamentary caucus leader Antal Rogán more recent statements only follow the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's own negative and demonising statements after the Paris terrorist killings.
“It can be seen that in Western European countries, for example in the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the presence of Muslim communities overturns the inner order of Christian countries. […] It is not in the interests of Hungary to receive economic migrants. They bring traditions that are completely alien from Hungarian traditions.”
— Antal Rogán, Fidesz party parliamentary caucus (emphasis added)
1.4%. 1.4% is the percentage of migrants in the whole population, estimated to reside in Hungary. These include immigrants, economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, etc. 1.4%, that's all! And let us be honest here, most of this number live in Budapest. And that many of the refugees and asylum seekers living in the state refugee camps outside of Budapest know that they are not welcome in Hungary by the present Government and would move further westward if they could, but are effectively trapped here because of the cruel Dublin II/III system that deports them back if they leave Hungary. Most refugees in Hungary would like to stay here and make a life, but the economy and the government’s policies make this an impossibility for most.
In contrast to the nearly half million Hungarian economic migrants in the EU, people with refugee status in Hungary do not have the freedom to move or work elsewhere.
‘....462,000 Hungarians have emigrated, representing 4.6 percent of the population. The most favoured destinations are Germany and the United Kingdom.’
Furthermore, it needs to be said that many refugees and asylum seekers in Hungary are themselves fleeing religious and other forms of extremism in their own countries. Many are here today because they oppose the kind of extremism the world witnessed in Paris this January 2015. Why do we ask Muslims to “condemn” the attacks, and yet we demonize exactly those people who have already done what we self-righteously ask?
Europe should be showing solidarity (Fraternité) with the victims of this extremism by helping them with a refugee status and to make a life here in exile. This is what the West did for Hungarians leaving their country for 45 years during the Cold War. The West even celebrated this fact by saying they ‘voted with their feet’ against the political systems in Hungary and other eastern parts of Europe by leaving.
Europe’s response today, in contrast, seems xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist.
Equally disturbing is Orbán’s use of the phrase “economic migrant” - as if this was a bad thing. The European Union itself was built upon the idea of mixing people and nationalities for mutual economic and cultural benefit. And let us not forget how Germany’s wealth is anchored also in their ‘guestworker-policy’ that relied on Turkish economic migrants. What is more, there is also a considerable percentage of 3rd country migrants working today in Hungary’s agricultural sector.
Strangely, our Prime Minister does not seem to be able to distinguish between the different kinds of migrants — absurdly lumping them all together — scapegoating both an asylum seeker fleeing war-torn Syria with an economic migrant from France who wishes to bring business to Hungary. It is worth asking of Viktor Orbán whether he even understands the words that come out of his mouth!
In the weeks after the massacre in Paris there are new calls to shut down or greatly restrict free movement inside the Schengen area of the European Union. It is important to recognise that the call to do this originates with the ultra-nationalist right wing - not only Hungary's own fascist Jobbik party but also from equally offensive western European parties such as Marine Le Pen's National Front and Nigel Farage’s UKIP party. After the Paris terror attacks, this has become a serious proposal from the mainstream of European politics, that are already biased against refugees, moves dangerously further to the right, excluding refugees from more and more of the freedoms that EU citizens enjoy.
Just weeks ago these same western parties wanted to shut down Schengen to keep out the 'Eastern Europeans' (such as, Hungarians), today they turn their aim at the Muslims. It would be wise to pause and consider the full effects on everyone in the European Union before shutting down or diminishing one of Europe’s finest accomplishments.
MigSzol is pro-equality. We welcome migrants of all kinds to Hungary because we believe Hungary is at its best when it connects to the world - to achieve this we believe in grass-roots action for a diverse, inclusive and tolerant Hungary and Europe. As G.M. Tamás (Tamás Gáspár Miklós, aka TGM) said at our recent MigSzol Birthday party at Auróra cafe:
‘And when the Hungarian government - this beloved government of ours - is saying to you and to us, that zero immigration is the aim of our national community, then you can tell them that you heard a Hungarian saying that this was a sub-human, anti-human, in-human statement.’
No discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, identity, nothing. We are are all humans and we have a right to live in Hungary and contribute to society the best we can. How can anything less than this be considered a 'European Value'?