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 reported. What 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.
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.