Naturally today’s topic must be the horrific terrorist attack carried out at three locations in Paris, which so far have resulted in 129 dead and 350 injured. We still know few of the details, but according to the latest intelligence the attack was carried out by three teams of terrorists. One team may have included a man with a Syrian passport who arrived in Greece in early October. His identity should be easy to ascertain since, according the Greek minister of interior, local authorities fingerprinted him on the island of Leros. Evidence indicates that among the accomplices there might be some men in Brussels. And the German police are investigating the case of a man who was arrested last week with weapons in his car and his GPS set for Paris. (Modern technology can be dangerous.)
President François Hollande declared three days of official mourning. The flags of the European Union will be lowered and black flags will fly next to them. High officials of countries from all over the world sent condolences to President Hollande.
France is in a state of emergency, and military troops are patrolling the capital. This is understandable since the French government considers the assault on its citizens “an act of war.” The attack is most likely a response to France’s military involvement against ISIS and other terrorist groups in Africa.
What is less understandable is the Hungarian government’s reaction to what happened 1,500 km away. The Orbán government is acting as if the terrorist attack occurred in Budapest. Just like in Paris, soldiers were ordered into the capital where they are patrolling downtown streets with machine guns at the ready. At the government’s prodding the Hungarian Football Association tried to cancel the Norwegian-Hungarian match in Budapest tomorrow, but FIFA vetoed the idea, claiming that the crowded schedule would make rescheduling the game very difficult. Thus, the game is being held, but extraordinary precautions will be taken. Tickets will be checked against IDs, and packages will be opened and inspected.
It may not have been possible to cancel the soccer match, but Fidesz postponed its congress originally scheduled for tomorrow because the government declared a day of national mourning. I checked whether any other country declared an official day of mourning for the French victims but didn’t find any that followed Hungary’s example. Which suggests that Viktor Orbán is making as much political hay out of the tragedy in Paris as he possibly can. Not that the Hungarian public needs more incitement against the refugees. At the same time, Orbán had to admit that there is no data suggesting any direct threat to Hungary.
Condolences were offered by Viktor Orbán, President János Áder, Fidesz, and the Christian Democratic Party. They all assured the French people of their sympathy. Among the opposition parties two responses were less boilerplate: Jobbik’s and DK’s. Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, felt it important to add to his soothing words that “what happened is what we have been afraid of.” At the other end of the political spectrum was Ferenc Gyurcsány, chairman of DK, who told his followers that “it is almost impossible not to respond to such hatred with hatred. Yet we must attempt to maintain our humanity.”
The Hungarian government hasn’t yet begun blaming European politicians for the terrorist attack, but I suspect that it will soon. For the time being only a pro-government national security expert and former intelligence man considers the attack “the responsibility of the politicians of the European Union.” But even on the right there are some sane voices. For example, György Pápay in Magyar Nemzet warned readers not to fall for either of two extreme positions: to accept all newcomers or to turn inward and exclude everybody. The golden mean must be found. “We can only hope that what happened in Paris will make the leaders of the continent realize that Europe must show unity.” This sounds like a call for Viktor Orbán to stop his destructive activities and to help solve the problems facing the European Union. Unfortunately, I have little hope that Pápay’s wish will be fulfilled any time soon. I suspect that the tragedy in Paris will only fortify Orbán’s conviction that his strategy is the correct one.