The tragedy in France and Viktor Orbán’s political agenda against immigration

In August 2014 Viktor Orbán was still riding high on the wave of his infamous speech about the superiority of an illiberal state. Hungarian ambassadors had gathered in Budapest, as they do every year in late summer, to listen to a speech by the prime minister in which he outlined the main objectives of Hungarian foreign policy. To a question on the Hungarian attitude toward immigration, Orbán repeated parts of an earlier speech he delivered in Ypres, Belgium, at the European Union prime ministers’ summit. On immigration, he said, Hungary has “hard and fast policies.” It is a topic on which the difference between liberal and illiberal states is clear-cut. Hungary in no way supports immigration, and he himself does not believe in the value of a multicultural society. On the contrary, he is in favor of an ethnically homogeneous nation-state.

In Ypres he wanted to include in the EU leaders’ joint statement a sentence to the effect that immigration is wrong and that Europe’s aim is to stop immigration. In this he didn’t succeed, but at least he can make sure that “Hungary remains a nation-state speaking the same language and having Christianity as its religious cornerstone.” Later in November during his visit to Korea he returned to the subject when he again expressed his opposition to immigration, lashing out at “political correctness” and calling the issue “a forbidden topic.”

In light of Viktor Orbán’s attitude toward ethnic and religious diversity, it was not hard to predict what the prime minister’s reaction would be to the tragedy in Paris. In his Friday morning “interview” the topic naturally came up. That his anti-immigration sentiments would surface no one doubted, but what enraged some people was that he felt compelled to include a not too subtle reference to his anti-immigration stance while the search for the terrorists was still under way. He couched his message in these terms: “For the time being it is not worth speaking in the voice of reason, it is still time for mourning,” as Hungary Today reportedWhat the official propaganda site did not mention was that during the course of the interview Orbán announced that “Hungary must be defended against an influx of immigrants.” Well, this is a position that will resonate well with the majority of Hungarians who are, as is well known, the most xenophobic people in Europe.

Viktor Orbán will undoubtedly do his best to influence EU policy on immigration, but I somehow doubt that he will succeed in convincing Brussels to send refugees coming from Africa and the Middle East back home.

immigrants

Hungarian journalists whose colleagues were murdered in France are split on the issue. Right-wingers and some religious leaders seem to lay the blame on the journalists at Charlie Hebdo who “provoked” the followers of Islam. They would like to see a European response that takes into consideration Islamic sensitivities. On the liberal side, commentators consider the attack on the editorial offices of the satirical weekly an attack on the freedom of the press. They consider the right’s point of view “appeasement,” which would only lead to further demands by the Islamic terrorists.

Of the two right-wing dailies, only Magyar Nemzet decided to write editorials on the French terror attack. Csaba Lukács, who closely follows the lead of Viktor Orbán, wrote the first. Yes, it was an unacceptable, barbaric act. But once we recover from the shock it is necessary to talk about “the question of immigration.” Because of mass immigration, “we [Europeans] are no longer the same, we have fewer and fewer values in common…. There are unbridgeable differences between religions and cultures which we must recognize.” Lukács seems to think that terrorism is somehow tied to a different religious experience. While a secularized Christian just shrugs his shoulders when he encounters an anti-religious cartoon, “a radical Islamist picks up his Kalashnikov.” The staff of Charlie Hebdo “provoked” these people. Nobody should be surprised at what happened because, after all, “for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

Lukács’s colleague, Zsuzsanna Körmendy, goes even further. She would like to see some statistics about how many family members of the assailants “have been killed by the democracy express of one of the western great powers going back all the way to 2001.” In plain English, all murders by Islamic terrorists from 9/11 on are the fault of the “democracy express.” Although she “feels sorry for the colleagues,” she finds it interesting that four of them were “decidedly old (68, 73, 76, and 80) who may have tasted the honey of ’68.” That is, they were ultra liberals. So, I guess, they deserved it.

The mention of 2001 is no coincidence. It was after 9/11 that István Csurka, chairman of MIÉP, an openly anti-Semitic party, and a member of parliament, rose in the House and delivered a speech in which he blamed the United States for what happened at the World Trade Center in September 2001. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was in the chamber and said nothing. George W. Bush never forgave his silence, and Orbán has been persona non grata in the White House ever since.

Heti Válasz‘s Szilárd Szőnyi is of the opinion that “we should not publish cartoons which are repugnant not only to these beasts but to all decent men.” Another commentator thinks that Arabs and black Africans have an entirely different temperament from Europeans. They are aggressive, they don’t value human life, they are primitive. They live in a tribal society whose “laws are strict.” I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they murder a few people in cold blood, presumably acting in accordance with strict tribal laws.

Finally, let me quote a university professor, György Nógrádi, who is always introduced as a “national security expert.” I consider him a buffoon. His take on immigration: “It is absolutely ridiculous. They come here when we don’t need them. They come here on ships whose crew escaped. The boat floats until we save them. But it occurs to no one to take them back where they came from. If they come from a country where there is civil war that is something else. But most of them come from Africa to escape hunger.” No comment.

I was happy to hear that according to János Hajdú, head of TEK (Terrorelhárítási Központ) and formerly Viktor Orbán’s personal bodyguard, there is no terror threat in Hungary. However, I’m sure that the Orbán government will reap great political benefits from the tragedy in France. The propaganda against immigration has already begun. The Hungarian prime minister did not even wait for the burial of the victims.

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Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Thanks a lot for the piece. I think I’ll refrain from commenting any of the quotes it contains.

At this point, it seems that both MM. Abbas and Netanyahu will attend the Paris rally, which incidentally will make the question of Mr. Orbán’s attendance trifling, to say the least.

regime-critique
Guest

To fight terrorism, we need morals.
And Orban has got none.

jeromos
Guest

Side note: Ypres is in Belgium, not France.

János
Guest

November 2001, not October 2001.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Oh well, we were coerced into giving it up 200 years ago. Damn treaties… 😉

Istvan
Guest
First off the French Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion, Groupes d’Intervention de la Police (GIPN), BRI of Paris, and any specialized units of the military that may have been involved in destroying the multiple terrorist threats Paris faced deserve great praise for their efforts in defense of democracy. While there may have been counter terror errors made in France in relation to preventing these attacks, these errors have been made world wide by national security agencies including here in the USA prior to Sept 11. When faced with a terrorist threat France aggressively and rationally defeated it. I think Hungarian security simply can’t be secured by containing immigration of non-whites to Hungary. If one reads the brilliant book Out of the Mountains by David Kilcullen one realizes that global terrorism can ruthlessly hit any major city, including Budapest. The best defense for Hungary is not to become even more racist in relation to immigration policy, but rather to become more aligned with NATO to prepare for attacks that will surely come to all nations from the Islamic Jihadists. In order for Hungary to become more aligned with NATO and western counter terrorism efforts either Orban will have to have a conversion… Read more »
Member

Is Lukacs is really this “not so smart”? I guess for him if someone would murder in Hungary for bad press that is all OK?“for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Well he should talk to Deutsch and Bayer because what they sow, and what Lukacs wishes for them is not pretty.

petofi
Guest
Multiculturalism is problematic. In Canada, it has confused a lot of immigrants not to mention some politicians as well. There’s a fine point between respecting other cultures and preserving the primacy of the host country. This line has often been fudged. I remember some years ago when a Greek basketball team visited Toronto and beat the Canadian basketball team. Right after the game, the Greek-Canadians were out in force on Danforth marching behind Greek flags. I found that disgusting. These people were Canadians living in Canada; attending Canadian schools and working at Canadian jobs, and enjoying the privileges of Canadian society. They had no business celebrating the win of a foreign country on Canadian land. I know that earlier when a Hungarian soccer team had visited and won, I secretly enjoyed the victory of my birth-country…but I would never celebrate it openly! After all, I was not a Hungarian: I was a Hungarian-born Canadian. People who come as immigrants owe it to the host country to learn its language and its culture and to respect it. They may maintain the culture of their birth-country but should never expect the host country to finance it, or to provide schools in their… Read more »
petofi
Guest

In other words, immigration is fine but immigrants must become ‘good citizens’ as that term is defined by the country the immigrant is planning on settling into.

Lutra lutra
Guest

The vast majority of immigrants, whether arriving as refugees or as a right, obey all the laws of their host country and are indeed good citizens. The problems start when these ‘good citizens’ have children, some of whom who don’t feel gratitude to the state but angry if they’re obliged to grow up in sub-standard housing, with inferior schools and poor employment opportunities, and crime in an easy way out.
When Orbán finds a way of integrating the Roma (who are Christians and speak Hungarian) ino our society then I think he can give the rest of Europe advice on how to deal with the problem. Until then…

Guest

Very sensible comments! Especially those by Istvan and Lutra lutra!
Re the xenophobia of Hungarians:
Has anybody seen recent results of a survey re the famous Pirez?

Hopkins
Guest
Thank God, there’s a new enemy. Immigrants and those who let them into fortress Europe. In other words the “Liberal Europeans” who are digging their own grave. We already had Brussels, the US, the Jews, the liberals, the ’68-ers, the banks, the multinational corporations, the big foreign food retailers, the NGOs, the communists, the post-communists; at last, here we have the “Immigrants”. Not that Hungary would have any real problem with them, given the state of the Hungarian economy, the difficulty to learn the Hungarian language and the very strict immigration laws virtually no people from Africa or Asia are granted citizenship. That is very different from the wholesale grant of citizenship to people from neighboring countries from where without any checks essentially anybody is granted a citizenship (the non-ethnic-Hungarian Serbs or Ukrainians and Russians use the Hungarian citizenship to move to Western-Europe). And the bitter irony is that in Hungary the majority of everyday people calls even the Hungarian speaker ethnic Hungarians as pejoratively as Romanians, Serbs etc. But hey, as long as Orban is popular (i.e people love him), there is literally nothing he won’t do to stay in power. My suspicion is that the new Hungarian State… Read more »
okapi
Guest

Oh, oh, Orban is in Zurich again.

Orban will travel to Paris using the private jet of OTP and he will stop in Zurich on the way back.

Given the media attention, he would have to be crazy to stop in Switzerland again.

Unless he has no choice, because he really is sick.

In Hungary regular visits couldn’t stay a secret, Germany – Orban feels – is not too friendly, France is far away, so Switzerland is a usual choice for dictators. Just a thought, but we have to assign some probability to this too.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20150111_Orban_az_OTP_gepevel_repul_Parizsba_masho?s=hk

kobold
Guest
Orban will bring cash back from his interests in Switzerland, he will need the dough for local deals. It’s an interesting tidbit that Sádor Csányi, whose real passion lies in agricultural business isn’t investing in the Mohács slaughterhouse (a huge, many billion HUF investment). However, György Nagy will continue with the business. György Nagy (graduated from IMO at the time when Béla Kovács of Jobbik did) was once a – relatively small – shareholder in Wallis. Wallis used to be rumored to be close to the szocis (all three founders were IMO graduates of the late 1980’s), and Gordon Bajnai was CEO of the group. However, Nagy exited the company long time ago with a relatively small amount of money, and disappeared until he emerged recently in connection with MET, the energy trading company which syphoned off several hundred million euros worth money from Hungarian taxpayers in a complex energy (natural gas) deal. MET is partly owned by the mysterious Istvan Garancsi, widely held to be one of the Strohmanner of Orbans. In fact MET is widely considered to be an investment vehicle of Orban’s. Given that Csányi, who knows the meat industry well and is partial to investing in… Read more »
Kavé
Guest
Orban shows his extreme provincialism when he comes out against immigration. it was the same kind of absurdity when drug testing for children was proposed. Hungary has one of the lowest rates of drug abuse in all of Europe. Hungary attracts very few immigrants, legal or illegal, besides ethnic Hungarians from neighboring countries. Hungary offers some of the lowest wages and highest taxes in the EU, a choked economy, and a native populace not ashamed to voice xenophobic and racist sentiment. Outside of Pest you rarely see more than two immigrants on a street. Cross the border into Austria and you can double your unskilled labor wages. Why should an immigrant or refugee want to stay? Check the stats: http://444.hu/2015/01/09/ha-orbanon-mulik-bevandorlok-nem-fognak-budapesten-lovoldozni/ When Jobbik began in the early 2000s the main target of its hate campaign was Chinese immigrants. Apart from a lot of anti-Chinese graffiti the campaign did not really gain any traction among working class Hungarians, who tend to get along with the Chinese whose shops and cheap eateries have become a part of the landscape in working class neighborhoods and whose children attend school here and speak fluent Hungarian. Not until the demonstration against Tilos Radio (the “Barango” case… Read more »
K
Guest

This post is very disgusting. Using the tragedy for political propaganda.

Where was the posting on this blog about solidarity on the day the attack happened? A post where people could pay their respects to the fallen. Where are the reports about the solidarity rallies that are being planned in France and in other countries.

Now, many days later a post comes but it is nothing but pathetic Hungarian internal political propaganda. Nothing about respecting the memory of the victims, nothing about showing actual human emotion. That you care. This tragedy is about heroes who created graphics, pictures and comics. Yet at a posting about the tragedy a picture shows a boat of refugees. Not some of the works of Charlie Hebdo republished for solidarity. Nothing.

This is a shameful exploitation of this tragedy. Shame on this website and its creators.

Bowen
Guest

@K: Well, Orban has used (and is using) the tragedy for political propaganda as well. Does that bother you much?

Bowen
Guest

Orban is not in the front row of the march, with the other leaders. He’s in the row behind.

TeamBritanniaHu
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

Member

I guess K will never understand that just as the writers at Charlie Hebdo the host of this blog writes whatever she wants to write, not what K wants her to write. The old commie reflexes will never die.

It seems the “blame the victim” is the same camp who are tirelessly trying to whitewash the Orban regime. On the surface there is the discussion about respect, but the point is to stop others talking about crimes their idols commit. Their problem is not how the cartoonist talked about the Sharia laws – It’s the fact that they talked about them. Like Kim Jong Un’s problem with the recent comedy, the Interview wasn’t disrespect, it was the fact that movie lampooned the terror in N. Korea. This is what K and the other Orbanites got out of the events. Be respectful and don’t say Orban is a corrupt dictator. Well, “no can do”, like my Chinese friends would say. We are Charlie.

Gergely
Guest

According to the official version, Orban drops by a FIFA event in Switzerland. It’s not a secret that Orban and others want Hungary to hold an Olympic games at all costs.

However to get there, Orban wants first to hold a global championship like football — slowly, but surely Orban builds the necessary stadiums anyway.

Member

Thank you Hopkins. Great comment.
Unfortunately many forgets that it is not the “regular” emigrants that are the cause of many problems. I know Hungarians in Toronto who came over in ’56 and they still do not speak ENglish. Just go to the Hungarian butcher, and you would be amazed when they by accident a new server asks something in English. I had Italian clients who had to bring a translator with them to conduct business and they are here since the 70s. THey have a small construction business, and they never needed to speak English. We have Jews here who strictly follow their religion even when it comes to work (not at last the Reichman family). It is the extremists who are the problem. No, you do not need to assimilate, but you need to respect the choices of others, and accept basic human rights even if that is not aligned with your traditions. The Jews have Lav Tahor in Canada, Hungary has their won crazies (Tatrszentgyorgy killings of the Roma), Romas have their own idiots, and so forth. Extremism is not tolerable.

Member

Racism and stupidity don’t know any skin color.

spectator
Guest
Wow! According to news there marched around two (!!) millions of peace loving liberal minded people in Paris, and a certain individual named Viktor Orbán for yet unknown reason, seemingly clearly lost, because couldn’t figure it out himself either. That’s the way to do it in a civilised country, to show to the World your solidarity with the victims! If we are at it, I still couldn’t really figure out, for what reason the paper should get such recognition and respect for their shitty little cartoons, which were clearly tasteless and rarely funny – but then again one perhaps should understand French, what I don’t. However, usually I used to get the message even in case of unknown languages, if the joke was somewhat good, but not this time. Furthermore being a hardline atheist in the last (nearly) fifty years, I really have no personal reason to be annoyed, yet, I don’t think that making fun of someone belief only for the sake of, acceptable. Look, even the primitive societies ‘respecting’ the mentally challenged, so do I, I respecting most of the beliefs, – with the exception of Fidesz-believers, of course – if someone really have to have it, so… Read more »
spectator
Guest

Hmm – and sorry for the typos, as usual.

Fishguard
Guest

A handy guide here identifying who was in the front row of the march in Paris today. (The Italian and Ukrainian premiers were also at the front.)

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/11/world-leaders-in-paris-whos-who

Orban’s Facebook photos makes it look like he was in the centre (rather cleverly), but in fact, he was behind the Queen of Jordan in the second row.

Guest

There is a French tradition of extreme humour – and Charlie Hebdo is a typical example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Hebdo
You probably have to be French to understand its anticlerical ideas.
Many Germans also have problems there – just as many have problems understanding the humour of Monthy Python or Blackadder.

Back to today’s demo – can anybody see Orbán here?
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