Tag Archives: anti-refugee propaganda

Chinks in Fidesz’s political armor

There is great excitement in opposition circles because today HVG published Medián’s latest opinion poll on the current standing of Hungarian political parties. Medián, which has the reputation of being the most reliable polling company, came out with results that seem to indicate that the solid, abnormally high public support for Fidesz-KDNP has suffered a considerable setback.

Medián’s previous polling results were published on December 13 with a rather depressing title: “The voting blocks are frozen and the opposition is increasingly disliked.” Fidesz at that point had the support of 60% of respondents who were definitely planning to vote. The only bright spot in the poll was that 56% of eligible voters were planning to cast their votes as opposed to the earlier Medián poll, published on November 1, which measured only 52%. The electorate was evenly split between those who wanted the Orbán government to stay and those who wanted a change of administration.

This was the situation in the first week of December, but by January 19, when Medián began its latest poll, “party preferences conspicuously changed.” Jobbik as well as the so-called democratic opposition parties moved up while Fidesz lost. This decline is especially striking among those who were determined to vote for Fidesz at the beginning of December. The earlier Medián poll recorded that 60% of active voters would have voted for Fidesz, but in the last few weeks this number shrank to 53%. That is a significant change.

There is, as the article written by Endre Hann and Zsuzsa Lakatos points out in today’s HVG, “a degree of uncertainty that has set in among Fidesz voters.” At the beginning of December, 75% of them said that they would definitely vote on April 8; today only 70% of them are sure. As for party support, I will include here the most important group’s results: those who have a preferred party and who will most likely vote. Here are the numbers: Fidesz 53%, Jobbik 18%, MSZP 11%, DK 9%, and LMP 6%. The rest: Együtt, Momentum, Two-Tailed Dog, Workers’ Party are all at 1%. (Red = electorate as a whole; green = active voters; yellow = can pick a party; teal = have a party and will vote.)

Endre Hann and Zsuzsa Lakatos believe that “the MSZP-Párbeszéd common list, standing at only 8% among the electorate as a whole, has the largest potential because 14% of those asked are considering voting for the party.” They attribute MSZP’s growing popularity to the party’s decision to ask Gergely Karácsony, the chairman of Párbeszéd and mayor of Zugló (District XIV), to be its candidate for the premiership. In Medián’s interpretation, Karácsony’s popularity and acceptance by socialists (90%), DK voters (81%), Jobbik supporters (42%), and even Fidesz (24%) is a sign that the MSZP-Párbeszéd ticket will be a strong draw.  But this is a bit misleading since the same Medián poll shows that although Karácsony leads the popularity list among the opposition candidates, his lead is not that substantial. Karácsony got 27%, but he is followed by Bernadett Szél (22%), Gábor Vona (21%), and Gyurcsány, who is not officially a candidate (19%).

There is no question that Gergely Karácsony, a boyish 42-year-old, is an extremely attractive candidate. He is soft-spoken and, unlike many of his compatriots, is ready for reasonable compromises. MSZP’s “face,” Ágnes Kunhalmi, a 35-year-old energetic woman, who accompanies Karácsony on his nationwide campaigning, is an equally sympathetic person. I admired the leadership of MSZP for realizing that there was no viable candidate within their own ranks to lead the troops into the election campaign and for having the courage to embrace someone from the outside.

Gergely Karácsony

I do, however, take issue with Medián’s conclusion that the recent pullback in support for Fidesz is in large measure due to Karácsony’s candidacy. First of all, one can go back as far as October 2017 when Iránytű Intézet spotted Karácsony as the most popular opposition politician. Practically every month and in every poll, he, Bernadett Szél, and Viktor Orbán were in the top three spots. Now that he’s officially MSZP’s candidate for prime minister and is extensively campaigning, he is much better known. With greater visibility (+12%) it’s not surprising that his popularity also went up. As I said, Karácsony is an extremely likable man.

But what really makes me doubtful about the direct connection between Gergely Karácsony’s candidacy and Fidesz’s loss of popularity is that MSZP gained only one percentage point in electoral support between the November and the January polls. It is still languishing at 11% among active voters. If Medián’s interpretation were correct, MSZP should have picked up at least two or three percentage points in additional support. Karácsony’s choice as MSZP’s candidate became finalized on December 12 and he, alongside Kunhalmi, began campaigning right away. Yet, five weeks later, when Medián began its most recent polling, MSZP’s support moved only from 10 to 11% as compared to the November Medián poll. Moreover, the other opposition parties also gained a percentage point or two.

What is dramatic in Medián’s latest poll is the 7% drop among Fidesz’s most active supporters.  So, something must have happened on the Fidesz side rather than among the opposition parties. And this “something,” I suspect, was the news that reached Hungary on January 11 that a day before Assistant Undersecretary Kristóf Altusz had revealed in an interview to The Times of Malta that in 2017 Hungary permitted almost 1,300 refugees to settle temporarily in the country. A few days later it became clear that “the government’s communication had collapsed.” Members of the government kept contradicting themselves. And the opposition parties launched a full-court press, attacking the government that for over two years had campaigned on the promise that no “migrant” will ever set foot on Hungarian soil. After a week, on January 16, the government finally made public the exact number and status of the accepted refugees. Three days later, on January 19, Medián began polling.

I propose that it was Fidesz’s propaganda going astray that caused Fidesz voters to have second thoughts about Viktor Orbán and his party. Most of Fidesz voters had believed the propaganda, and now they felt hoodwinked, cheated, taken for a ride. Not an unexpected reaction. And not surprisingly, the number of those who want the “cheating and lying” government out of office has risen. In November the population was equally divided on the subject. The satisfied group was almost as high (46%) as the dissatisfied one (47%). Now, however, 49% would like the Orbán government to be defeated and only 42% have remained faithful to Fidesz.

Of course, all this might be only a flash in the pan, but after months of discouraging sameness this latest turn of events shows the potential vulnerability of the governing party. If everything is bet on one card and something goes wrong, the result can be fatal. And yet the Fidesz strategy is still centered on the same old anti-migrant, anti-Soros propaganda which, I believe, is responsible for the polling setback Viktor Orbán just suffered.

February 1, 2018

Fidesz communication went astray. Total chaos and confusion

One of the headlines I encountered this morning, which appeared in 444, declared that the Orbán government’s anti-migrant propaganda, on which Fidesz’s whole election campaign rests, is “in tatters.” The embarrassment that began with Assistant Undersecretary Kristóf Altusz’s admission that in the last year 1,292 people received either refugee or subsidiary protection status has proved to be a major source of discomfort for the Orbán government, which swore that not one refugee will ever be admitted inside the borders of Hungary. It insisted that Hungary will remain “migrant free” and its culture unadulterated by an alien religion and a foreign culture. And now the hot topic of conversation is the number of refugees who have been more less settled by the ferociously anti-migrant government. That is bad enough in itself, but that all this was done in secret while the Orbán government spent billions on anti-migrant posters and conducted one of the most virulent hate campaigns was more than even some Fidesz supporters could swallow.

The government wasn’t expecting the upheaval that followed the discovery of the Altusz interview with The Times of Malta because these numbers were available on the website of the Immigration and Asylum Office, which I can recommend visiting. After seeing the smiling faces of black girls and boys, an attractive Muslim girl in traditional garb, a lovely young Chinese couple with a cute baby, one gets the impression that Hungary is a welcoming paradise for immigrants. But although all that information was readily available amid the incredible anti-immigrant noise the government created, few people bothered to check the statistics. I was among the few who called attention to the steady stream of refugees arriving in my November 2017 post “Beware, the refugees are coming!”

So, the information was there, but the vast majority of Hungarians believed that the Orbán government actually meant it when it said that no “illegal migrant” will ever reach Hungarian soil and, if they do, they will be immediately returned to wherever they came from. By now, most Hungarians are convinced that all migrants are dangerous and that they should be avoided at all costs. It was within this artificially created atmosphere that they learned that what the government had told them was merely empty propaganda. “Migrants” are coming and most likely will be coming in the future as well.

The government has to devise some clever way to change the communication adopted in 2015, to explain somehow to the folks in Őcsény that those “migrants” whom they refused to accept in their village for a weekend are actually the “guests” of the Orbán government. One of the tricks the Orbán government used to mislead the population was to conflate refugees and economic migrants. In the last few days government spokesmen are talking more about the Geneva Convention and Hungary’s obligation to give refugees shelter, but concurrently with this softer tone the hate campaign against the European Union’s refugee policy and those NGOs that allegedly support illegal migrants continues.

Still, confusion reigns regarding the direction of the “migrant” propaganda. According to Sándor Pintér, George Soros doesn’t support illegal migration. A day later, however, Viktor Orbán said in his Friday morning interview on Kossuth Rádió that “George Soros can decide what to do: he will cease to organize and support illegal migration.”

While the government is struggling to come up with a coherent, believable explanation of its refugee policy, more details are emerging about the sizable financial assistance that joint EU-government sources have given to NGOs that belong to the “Soros network” and whose activities are closely tied to assisting arriving refugees. A few days ago Szilárd Németh, defending his decision to ban LMP’s co-chair Bernadett Szél from attending certain sessions of the parliamentary committee on national security, found her guilty of working at one point for Menedék (“Asylum” in Hungarian), an organization dealing with migrant issues. But it turned out that the same Menedék received substantial grants from the Hungarian government and the European Commission’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), so it is hard to argue that Szél’s short employment there in 2002 constitutes a seditious act. All told, since 2015 Menedék has received at least 150 million forints for projects like “Let’s Cooperate!” and “Welcoming kindergartens and schools.” AMIF provides 75% of the assistance, but the rest comes straight from the Hungarian government.

“I’m teaching Hungarian to refugees from Somalia” / Source: Párbeszéd Háza

 

Soon enough Magyar Nemzet found another NGO, “ Wheel of Fortune” (Jövőkerék), which had received millions of forints over the last few years for its work with newly arrived refugees. Earlier, the same NGO had received $48,000 from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. The Hungarian branch of the United Nation’s International Migration Organization won three grants amounting to more than 100 million forints. The largest amount of money went to the Immigration and Asylum Office for projects like “We are all different,” “The beginning of a new life,” and “Travels along a long road.”

The latest piece of news on the “migrant” front came from Brussels and was reported today. The European Parliament, including the majority of the Fidesz MEPs, voted for a document that contained a request to the European Commission to facilitate cooperation with NGOs to ensure the human rights of refugees, especially those of defenseless women and girls. The text of the document, which is available on the website of the European Parliament, contains two crucial points. First, it calls on the Commission to work together with civil society and human rights organizations to ensure that the human rights of refugees and displaced persons in reception centers are upheld, particularly with respect to vulnerable women and girls. And second, it recognizes the possibilities for the integration of climate change mitigation and adaptation and women’s economic empowerment goals, particularly in developing countries; calls on the Commission and the Member States to explore in relevant projects and mechanisms, such as the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) program, how women could be offered paid employment opportunities to carry out the environmental services that they currently provide on a voluntary basis, for example reforestation, afforestation of cleared land, and the conservation of natural resources.

Whether the Fidesz MEPs knew exactly what they signed is hard to say. George Schöpflin admitted that he didn’t know what he voted for; he simply followed the instructions of Lívia Járóka, the newly appointed vice-president of the European Union. Járóka, who is of partly Roma origin, seems to be more sensitive to refugee issues than her comrades in Fidesz. Earlier I called attention to an interview she gave to Magyar Idők in which she refused to engage in any anti-migrant talk. Instead, she emphasized the necessity of integration. As she put it, “we would like it if they [the refugees] would understand that we find it important that, after a rapid and effective integration, armed with European knowledge, they would be able to return to their own homelands.” This was a new voice, which I duly noted at the time. In any case, Járóka managed to get the majority of Fidesz MEPs to vote for a document which, at least on the level of government communication, is not part of the Orbán government’s agenda.

Where Orbán is planning to go from here is hard to tell. The opposition parties collected enough signatures to force László Kövér, president of the parliament, to convene a special session of parliament on the issue of the “secret” admission of refugees to the country. Kövér cleverly set January 30th as the date, thereby saving Viktor Orbán from the embarrassment of being forced to attend. That day he will be meeting with Sebastian Kurz, the new chancellor of Austria.

January 24, 2018

Justin Spike: Hungarian village vents its hatred of refugees

Justin Spike’s article on the recent upheaval in the village of Őcsény first appeared in The Budapest Beacon under the title “Hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the town–Hungarian village succumbs to state propaganda.” In a separate post to appear shortly, I’ll comment on the event and its aftermath.

♦ ♦ ♦

Residents of the Tolna county village of Őcsény in southwest Hungary held an emergency village assembly Monday evening. So many members of the roughly 2,000-person community attended that not everyone was able to fit into the community center. They had come together to discuss what they considered an imminent threat to their village: the arrival of several refugees, mostly women and children, for a few days of vacation.

The residents had gotten wind of the cooperation between a local guesthouse owner, Zoltán Fenyvesi, and the Migration Aid civil organization to bring four rounds of six or seven refugee children with adult chaperones to the village for a week of relaxation in the guesthouse and sightseeing tours in the region.

Upon hearing of the plan, residents convened the assembly, which Fenyvesi attended. The meeting was so hysterical and full of shouting, the guesthouse owner said, that he didn’t have the chance to speak.

The half-broken sign once read “European village” / Source: 24.hu / Photo: Rudolf Karancsi

Later that night, the tires on two of Fenyvesi’s vehicles were slashed.

“The people were so dismissive at the village assembly that the guesthouse owner and the civil organization couldn’t even say what their plans were,” said Őcsény mayor János Fülöp, who has since resigned. “They said things like, ‘These people are animals, they’re not even human. They’re terrorists, they’re going to blow things up and rape the children’.”

Hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the town

Of all the many problems facing countryside villages – “no medical care, the closure of the savings banks and the post offices, no firewood” – what everyone is talking about nowadays is migration, mayor Fülöp said.

“This was only about 30 people, mostly women and children, that would have come here,” he said. “They would only have been at the guesthouse at night, because in the daytime they wanted to bring them to monuments, and to Pécs and the surroundings.”

Fülöp, who resigned his 11-year post as mayor of Őcsény Wednesday night after a special meeting of the local council, insisted that “not every refugee is a criminal and Islamist fanatic. These people received the protection of the Hungarian state, they went through a serious inspection based on international treaties.”

Fülöp said he’d resigned because the village had become divided, and he didn’t want to contribute to furthering the tensions.

“I’ve been mayor here for 11 years, and in that time I remember peace and quiet. No one spat on or cursed each other. That’s finished now,” he said, adding that he thinks the hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the place.

Fenyvesi, the owner of the Csengettyűs guesthouse, agreed.

“I trusted that there would be a normal debate at the village assembly where I could convince the people, but I told them in vain that this was about children. There was no chance for a discussion,” Fenyvesi said.

“They’re not afraid, they’re horrified,” he told 444.hu of the residents. “They said they hate them! They really think that one migrant here will become six, six will become 12, and in the end they’ll take over all of Őcsény and all of Hungary.”

Őcsény residents told daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet that they didn’t believe the refugees would only stay for a few days. One woman said she’d heard they would be moved into vacant houses in the village, and was afraid they’d bring diseases. Another said she’d seen on television how the refugees behave: “They rape everyone.”

One local man on a bicycle approached a Magyar Nemzet journalist and insisted the residents shouldn’t interact with “political monkeys,” since every newspaper and television station works for George Soros. He considers Fenyvesi, the guesthouse owner, a “Soros agent” as well, he said.

A petition is reportedly being circulated in Őcsény which aims to ban migrants from the community indefinitely.

If the shepherds had not been from Bethlehem, but from Őcsény…

According to its website, Migration Aid is “a volunteer civil initiative providing live-saving emergency assistance for asylum-seekers who need it.” The organization recently ran into similar local opposition when it arranged to provide accommodation for refugees in a town near Lake Balaton. At that time, Fidesz politicians and government media insisted the organization was “settling” illegal migrants in Hungarian villages as part of the government-contrived, much-touted “Soros Plan.”

Fenyvesi responded to a Migration Aid ad seeking volunteers to provide vacation accommodation for refugees who have received the official protection of the Hungarian state. He offered his 9-bed guesthouse to the organization free of charge.

It’s not the first time Fenyvesi has used his guesthouse to accommodate disadvantaged people. He said he has often taken in “people in difficult social situations” to stay there for free.

“If I can accommodate poor Hungarian children, and among them very many Gypsy children, I would add, then why not suffering refugee families with children?” he asked. “I’d be really curious that if the shepherds had not been from Bethlehem but from Őcsény, then would Jesus lay down among the cattle to rest in the manger, or somewhere outside like a homeless person?”

But Fenyvesi’s goodwill was met with hostility in Őcsény: after the village assembly, he was threatened and his property was damaged.

“They literally threatened me, that they would separate my head from my body!” he told 444.hu. “In the night there was a huge bang, a brick was thrown at my van. We saw in the morning that six of my eight tires had been slashed. I ask you, if someone is banging someone’s car mercilessly in front of their house in the night, and they’d threatened them before…then will he feel terrorized or not? I wonder, is that terror or not?”

Fenyvesi has decided not to host the refugee children, “not because they terrified me or anything like that, but because I saw those mothers and how shocked and horrified they are and how much they hate, and a mother’s love for her children is above everything.”

He said he doesn’t blame the residents for what has happened, but government propaganda which has incited so many Hungarians to hate.

“And those who threaten me, I’m not mad at them,” he said. “Nor at the tire slashers. Because they’re actually really good folks. They go wild over certain topics and become unpredictable. I think I’m going to discuss it with them; we go to the same bar. Either we’ll come to an understanding or I’ll get life insurance and that’s it. You don’t have to live forever.”

September 29, 2017

The moral and financial cost of the Hungarian hate campaign

Today Publicus Intézet came out with another poll indicating that most likely fewer than 4,136,313 people, the number necessary to have a valid referendum, will cast their votes for a meaningless question on “compulsory” migrant quotas that would allegedly mean the eventual forcible settlement of tens of thousands of refugees in Hungary against the will of its inhabitants. Publicus conducted two polls a week apart. The one released today shows 8% fewer people intend to participate in the referendum than a week ago.

What would the fate of Hungary be if the people don’t support the government in its heroic efforts to save Hungary and Christian Europe from the Muslim hordes? Zsolt Bayer, in an opinion piece today, describes the dire consequences of population explosion in Africa and Asia and Europe’s significant population loss in the past and most likely in the future. “We, the European natives, European white people” are threatened. What is waiting for Europeans is “complete annihilation.” It is just a question of time before “European, Christian, white civilization will disappear forever.” Perhaps Europe, the continent Bayer imagines, already no longer exists because if one goes to Vienna, Munich, Rome, Naples one can only weep. “Go to the steps of Sacré Coeur where blacks who overrun everything sell their junk….  Our gorgeous Europe of yesteryear can today be found only in Prague, Cracow, Warsaw, Bratislava, Kosice, Sopron and Eger. Because we are Europe today. Europe was driven back to the despised, ridiculed, vilified Central Europe. This is the Europe we must defend. At any price.”

This racist rant is what is pounded into the heads of Hungarian adults and children. Viktor Orbán shamelessly announced the other day that without his government’s heroic efforts to keep the refugees out of Hungary Europe would have fallen already. He has already spent incredible sums on building fences along the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian borders and employs 10,000 soldiers and policemen to guard them. In addition, in the last half a year he has spent a fortune on a hate campaign against the “migrants.” But, if we are to believe Bayer, when it comes to the defense of white Europe price doesn’t matter. So, let’s see just how much money Orbán has spent on the lead-up to this meaningless referendum.

The invasion of Europe according to Fidesz propaganda

The invasion of Europe according to Fidesz propaganda

According to estimates by atlatszo.hu, an NGO devoted to unearthing corruption and political wrongdoing, the Hungarian government so far has spent 15 billion forints or €48.6 million on this hate-filled campaign in a country of 9.9 million inhabitants. That is more than the €42.7 spent on both sides (stay and leave) of the Brexit campaign, where the organizers had to reach 64.1 million people. So the Hungarian government spent €5.00 per person on its single-sided campaign while the Brits spent only €0.66. Atlatszo.hu thus concludes that the Hungarian campaign cost the taxpayers 7.3 times more than the British campaigns did.

There is another way at looking at the numbers. The Hungarian government estimated that the upkeep of one refugee for a year would cost 1.56 million forints or €4,705 but the generous EU promised €6,000 instead.  If we divide the €48.6 million spent on the campaign by the 1,294 refugees Hungary would have been obliged to take, we arrive at the incredible figure of €37,642 per person. Or, in other words, about 7.5 years of their maintenance was spent on billboards, posters, and pamphlets filled with fear-mongering and incitement against the refugees, much of which went to loyal Fidesz oligarchs.

The greatest calamity of course is not the money spent but the damage done to the soul of the Hungarian people. A year ago, when refugees were pouring into the country, between 7,000 and 8,000 a day, anti-refugee sentiment was relatively moderate, somewhere between 45% and 55%. Today this figure is close to 85%-90%. It is heartbreaking to hear that schoolchildren call each other “migrants” as a pejorative term. One nine-year-old asked his mother whether he could carry a pocket knife when the migrants come. And a little girl who couldn’t even pronounce the word “migráns” envisaged being killed when they arrive in Hungary.

Here are some bizarre official and semi-official pronouncements on the refugee question. A well-known rock star claimed that “it’s 1,000% sure that they will rape all the women. They came here to occupy this land but they don’t want to work. I will not dare to let my children and grandchildren outside.” The deputy prime minister, Zsolt Semjén, came out with this brilliant observation: “If we make a mistake now it can never be remedied. If many hundreds of thousands of Muslims come here we will never be able to get rid of them, and our children will attend school with girls with hijabs and we will have to live under the threat of Sharia law.” In Nógrád County an organization sent out a short message that said “we hold on to our pork, good wine, and a little pálinka,” which naturally are threatened by the migrants.

I don’t know how long it will take to undo the damage Viktor Orbán’s political ambitions have inflicted on the country. I’m afraid it may take decades, especially if this man is allowed to continue his dictatorial rule for many more years.

October 1, 2016

Let’s Invalidate the Hungarian Refugee Quota Referendum!

“This is our country: Let’s invalidate the referendum!” is the title of the common statement of 22 NGOs protesting against the inhuman politics of the Hungarian government against refugees.

The Hungarian government has unleashed a xenophobic hate campaign ahead of the refugee referendum on October 2. Twenty-two NGOs are urging citizens to reject the government’s fearmongering and invalidate the referendum.

Hungarians will go to the polls on October 2 to answer the following question: Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?

We, Hungarian NGOs and citizens with a sense of responsibility for our country, believe in a country where our common matters are managed with humaneness, solidarity and mutual respect. We are concerned about seeing the government threaten our common values, therefore we speak out against the referendum scheduled for October 2, as well as the hate campaign surrounding the vote.

We decided to start a campaign to invalidate the referendum, which fails to promote our common concerns and is both pointless and inhuman.

Pointless question

The question put to referendum fails to promote our common concerns. It does not offer a solution either to the situation of refugees or the future of the European Union. It rejects solidarity with our fellow human beings in plight, just like with the other European member states. It has no intention to create a framework for peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that nobody can feel safe in the long run where public discourse is defined by hatred.

The question put to referendum is pointless. No provision on compulsory “resettlement” quotas has ever been adopted, let alone discussed, in the EU. If such a question were put on the agenda in the future, Hungary would have a place at the negotiating table.

Moreover, the response given to the referendum question does not entail any specific legal consequences, nor does it make clear exactly what entitlement the government asks for from the citizens, as this has never been revealed.

Shattered solidarity

The question put to a vote is also inhuman. The goal of the referendum and the accompanying campaign is to incite hatred against refugees. Its only potential consequence is the further weakening of the already shattered social solidarity, thereby reinforcing the government in continuing with its hate campaign.

The real question that is going to be at stake on October 2 is whether this country will ever be able to become a humane community. This is the goal we work for 365 days a year — on October 2 and on every other day.

Some of us will cast an invalid vote, while others will boycott the coerced anti-refugee referendum. Our goal is nevertheless the same: to invalidate this referendum.

Join us, share our statement, talk to your friends, colleagues and neighbors. Convince them, too, thus we can prove together: our country is based on humaneness and solidarity.

Artemisszió Alapítvány
Eleven Emlékmű
Eötvös Károly Közpolitika Intézet
Előadó-művészeti Szövetség
Gyerekesély Közhasznú Egyesület
Hálózat a Tanszabadságért
Hívatlanul Hálózat
Platform Egyesület
Közélet Iskolája Alapítvány
Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
Magyar Női Érdekérvényesítő Szövetség
Magyarországi Európa Társaság
Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség
Migration Aid
MigSzol
Oktatói Hálózat
Oltalom Karitatív Egyesület
Opera Közhasznú Kulturális Egyesület
Segítsünk együtt!
Szépírók Társasága
Társaság a Szabadságjogokért

Anti-refugee hysteria in Hungary

The “real” referendum campaign began only after September 4, when Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz parliamentary delegation met for the weekend in Balatonfüred to discuss the political tasks ahead. Of course, the most urgent job is to whip up sentiment against the “migrants,” thus making sure that enough people vote, preferably “no” to the question “Do you want the European Union, without the consent of Parliament, to order the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?” I’d wager to say that the majority of citizens who are ready to participate in this hoax believe that what they are voting for is “No, we don’t want to have a single migrant in our midst.”

After three weeks of intense campaigning, with government and party officials on the road day in and day out, a veritable hysteria has enveloped the country. It is a frightening reminder of how an unscrupulous demagogue can take basically decent people and instill in them the worst possible instincts about people they know close to nothing about (and the little they think they know comes from dubious sources).

A year ago 64% of Hungarians thought that “it is our duty to help the refugees” and 52% believed that the refugees should be treated more humanely than the Hungarian government was doing at the time. Today the second number has decreased to 38%, and only 35% think it is their duty to help the refugees at all. These are the results of the hate campaign the Orbán government has waged for months. This kind of propaganda blitz can be carried out only in dictatorships where all power is concentrated in the hands of the government and where there is no effective opposition, which by now is pretty much the case in Hungary. The fractured Hungarian opposition has no means by which to combat this one-sided onslaught.

So, let’s see what kinds of tricks the Orbán government is using to achieve its desired end. The most brutal words came from György Nógrádi, the government’s favorite “expert” on national security, who worked as an agent for the internal security establishment during the 1980s. He is apparently very popular as a speaker at the “town meetings” organized by the local authorities. He says that these migrants cannot be integrated, and if Hungarians don’t want “no-go” zones in Hungary they will have to go and vote. In one town the audience was in a total frenzy by the time Nógrádi finished with his stories about the horrid possibilities awaiting them. An older woman rose to speak, clutching the photos of her two granddaughters who will be raped by migrants unless Viktor Orbán saves them. At the end of the lecture Nógrádi suggested that the only way to stop the inflow of migrants is to shoot them as they are crossing the sea.

Zsolt Bayer frightens people by telling them that 2 billion people will be coming to Europe from Africa, even though the population of the continent is only 1.2 billion. Fidesz MPs have been going from town to town, terrifying people with the prospect that migrants will be forcibly settled in their town. In Gödöllő the Fidesz MP of the district told his audience that 1,500 migrants will be settled in the town, which means 220 families. Moreover, in time that number will be much higher because these people’s relatives will join them. The mayor of the town is suing the MP for scare-mongering. In Csepel the Fidesz deputy mayor announced that the residents “wouldn’t be happy if [the government] had to evict the tenants” living in municipal housing in order to make room for the migrants. Moreover, the district now spends 192 million forints on financial assistance for its citizens, and it would be sad if that money ended up in the hands of the migrants. Two lawyers decided to sue the deputy mayor, again for scare-mongering.

Roland Mengyi, the MP whose immunity was just lifted because of the corruption case unearthed by Attila Rajnai of 168 Óra, was asked to campaign for the referendum. No hiding in shame for him. At one of his meetings Gabriella Selmeczi, formerly a Fidesz spokeswoman, told the people of Borsod County that migrants will be settled there and that the “white people” will soon find out what it’s like having “no-go zones” if they don’t vote no. A gypsy in the crowd told the audience that “ten years ago at Olaszliszka these people would have killed not only Lajos Szögi but his daughters as well. Everybody.” In 2006 in Olaszliszka a group of gypsies beat to death a man whom they accused of killing a girl who ran in front of his car. More about the story here.

hysteria by s.butterfy / flickr.com

hysteria by s.butterfy / flickr.com

The official referendum booklet claims that the so-called “no-go” zones are areas of cities that the authorities are unable to keep under their control. Here the society’s written or unwritten norms do not apply. Saying that in those European cities where large numbers of immigrants live several hundred “no-go” zones exist got the Hungarian government into trouble. Not only was Szijjártó asked some hard-hitting questions in an interview with the BBC, but the British, French, German, and Swedish ambassadors together demanded a meeting in the Hungarian foreign ministry about this obviously false claim of the Hungarian government.

Meanwhile, others resort to violence. The Two-tailed Dog Party (KKP), which has collected about 20 million forints and printed several funny “counter-posters,” has several young activists who put them up on advertising surfaces. Pro-government individuals systematically tear them down or cover them with other advertisements. The following incident gives an idea of what’s going on nowadays in the country. Activists were in the middle of putting up KKP posters in Szentendre when a taxi driver went up to them and yelled “A zsidó kurva anyátokat” (Your f..ing Jewish mother). At that point the taxi driver tore down the posters one by one and, when an activist starting taking a video, the man hit him. The activist ended up on the ground. To everybody’s great surprise the police on its own laid charges against the man, who has since been identified as Béla P (63). He is being accused of battery.

The chief culprit is of course Viktor Orbán himself, who just today announced at a press conference in Vienna that in Egypt 5.5 million migrants are waiting to move on and that the EU-Turkish agreement might easily be broken. In this case the EU needs a new “script for the impending disaster” (vészforgatókönyv). I was especially intrigued by the 5.5 million migrants in Egypt since that is an enormous number of people about whom we should have heard sometime, somewhere. So I decided to investigate. I found the following information about the number of refugees in Egypt, as provided by the UN Refugee Agency: “As of 31 August [2016], 187,838 refugees and asylum-seekers have been registered with UNHCR in Egypt, with 116,175 Syrian (62%) followed by 31,200 Sudanese, 10,941 Ethiopians, 7,254 Somalis, and 7,000 Iraqis, among others.”

What can we expect from a government whose the prime minister so brazenly lies about facts that can be easily verified? Not much. The result is a moral disaster.

September 24, 2016

“We must stop Brussels!” referendum booklet warns Hungarians

I’m grateful to the staff of  The Budapest Beacon for permission to re-post their English translation of the propaganda pamphlet the Hungarian government is distributing, in multiple copies, to every Hungarian household. I heard that it even mysteriously appeared on each desk in grade 12 classrooms.

♦ ♦ ♦

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 BY THE STAFF OF THE BUDAPEST BEACON

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“Let’s send a message to Brussels so they can understand too!”

“We must stop Brussels!  We can send a clear and unequivocal message to Brussels with the referendum.  We must achieve that it withdraws the dangerous proposal.  For this we must vote no.” – Page 14.

The government of Hungary has sent 4.1 million, full-color, B4-sized booklets to Hungarians at home and abroad making the government’s case for why Hungarians should vote “no” in the national referendum on October 2.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has staked his political prestige (and that of his national conservative government) on the outcome of the referendum.  In order for it to be valid, one half of the electorate plus one must cast a valid vote on the question:

Do you want for the European Union to be able to prescribe the obligatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the approval of the National Assembly?

The national conservative government of Orbán is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to inform the Hungarian voting public of the dangers posed by illegal immigration so that the overwhelming majority of them will vote “no”.

Legal experts and opposition leaders alike argue that the referendum question is moot and the referendum itself is illegal, as Hungary’s “obligation” in this matter arises from international treaties and not from acts of parliament.  But this has not prevented Orbán from wallpapering the country with xenophobic billboards and bombarding the viewing and listening public with anti-Brussels advertisements at horrific cost to taxpayers.

For the benefit of our readers who reside in Hungary but do not read Hungarian, below is our translation of the 18-page booklet, including front and rear cover.

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Rear cover (left): Let’s vote no! Referendum 2016 against the forced settlement.

Front cover (right): Referendum 2016 against the forced settlement. Let’s send Brussels a message they can understand too! October 2nd

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Page 1 (left): We have a right to decide who we want to live with

Europa is living in times of crisis. In 2015, a country’s worth, more that 1.5 million illegal immigrants arrived in Europe.

Brussels, instead of stopping the people’s migration, plans the further settlement of tens of thousands of migrants.

It is unlawfully preparing for the member countries, including Hungary, to settle immigrants.

Page 2 (right):

We cannot allow our country’s future to be decided by others.

Only we Hungarians can decide with whom we would like to live.  To this end, the government has initiated a referendum against forced settlement.

The referendum question:

Do you want for the European Union to be able to prescribe the obligatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the approval of the National Assembly?

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Page 3 (left):  The migration of people is jeopardizing Europe’s future.

Year by year, the number of illegal immigrants is growing in Europe. The European elite deny the problem.

Europe does not protect its borders.

Brussels thinks that immigration is a good way to deal with population decline and labor shortages. Hungary rejects this approach.

Page 4 (right):  The Brussels elite argues that new labor is needed in Europe. However, the situation is that there are already 21.4 million unemployed seeking work in Europe, and of those 12.4 million are long-term unemployed.

Exhibit: The number of illegal immigrants arrived in Europe: 336,000 in 2012, 432,000 in 2013, 627,000 in 2014, 1.5 million in 2015

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Page 5 (left): Hungary protects its borders

The Hungarian government built a border fence for the protection of Europe and Hungary, for which the European politic and press launched a campaign against it.  In spite of this, more and more have come to support the Hungarian solution.

Instead of forced settlement, protection of the outer borders is needed, so that you can still travel unimpeded within the Union.

Page 6 (right): The southern safety border fence ameliorates illegal immigration. Nevertheless, the danger still remains, which is why we must protect the borders by any means. To this end, the Hungarian government has brought a 10-point plan of action to EU leaders called Schengen 2.0. In it, the government makes proposals for the strengthening of the border protection system.

“Many people are going to thank Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán for what he has done on his borders.” – Horst Seehofer, Bavarian Prime Minister, N24 German news TV

Exhibit: Number of arrived immigrants in 2015:  390,638 before securing the border, 746 after securing the border

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Page 7 (left): Illegal immigration increases the threat of terror

We reject forced settlement, because it would increase the danger of terror.

The immigrants largely come from places where European states are engaged in military campaigns. This significantly increases safety risks.

Terrorists consciously and in a well-organized manner take advantage of the lack of control, so that they can slip in with the crowds of immigrants. No one can say how many terrorists have arrived so far among the immigrants.

Page 8 (right):

Viktor Orbán “loudly announced what many leaders think but don’t talk about because of political correctness.” – Beata Szydlo, Polish prime minister, TVN24 Polish news TV

The Paris and Brussels attacks proved that there is a very close relationship between immigration and terrorism.

Exhibit: January 2015, Paris, 17 dead + 22 wounded; November 2015 Paris, 130 dead + 368 wounded; March 2016, Brussels, 32 dead + 340 wounded; July, Nice, 86 dead + 303 wounded.

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Page 9 (left): Forced settlement endangers our culture and our customs.

Obligatory resettlement would change Europe and Hungary’s ethnic, cultural and religious composition. Illegal immigrants don’t respect our laws, and they don’t want to share in our common cultural values.

If we don’t take action, in a couple of decades we won’t recognize Europe.

“I agree with Viktor Orbán that Europe needs strong outer borders.” – David Cameron, ex-British Prime Minister, in a joint press conference with Viktor Orbán

Illegal immigrants do not respect European norms, among others the rights of women. Since the immigrant crisis began the number of assaults on women has grown by leaps and bounds.

Page 10 (right):  Several hundred “No-Go” zones in Europe’s big cities

The so-called “no-go” zones are areas of cities that the authorities are unable to keep under their control. Here the recipient society’s written or unwritten norms do not apply. In those European cities, where immigrants live in great numbers, several hundred “no-go” zones exist.

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Page 11 (left): Brussels’ dangerous plans

Based on the European Commission proposal, those member countries that would not like to resettle migrants will be fined.

The size of the fine would be 78 million forint per immigrant.

By contrast, one Hungarian receives 1 million forints of assistance over a period of seven years.

Exhibit:  Brussels would impose a fine of HUF 78 million per immigrant on those member states that say no to the forced settlement.

One Hungarian gets HUF 1 million in under seven years.

Page 12 (right):  Brussels has proposed a fine of such a sum, that a Hungarian person on average must work 39 years to earn.

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Page 13 (left): Let’s send a message to Brussels!

The Hungarian government has initiated a referendum against forced resettlement.

The referendum is necessary because Brussels has proposed that immigrants arriving in the European Union should be distributed based on a predefined quota among member states of a compulsory nature.

Page 14 (right): Taking into account the current rate of immigration and family reunification, within a period of five years a city’s worth of people could be settled in Hungary.

Brussels must be stopped!

We can send a clear and unequivocal message to Brussels with the referendum.

We must achieve that it withdraws its dangerous proposal.

For this we must vote no.

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Pages 15 and 16 contain information about the referendum itself, including the hours polls open and close, what documents voters need to present in order to vote, and how to vote abroad.

Page 17 features a photograph of the Hungarian National Assembly.

Page 18 (right):  Let’s stay in touch:

Stay in touch with us and be informed of the most important governmental measures.  Fill in the attached form, put it in an envelope, and send it to us.  Address:  The Cabinet Office of the Office of the Prime Minister 1896.

Name:

Address:

Email:

Mobile tel.:

Land line:

Signature:

The form is followed by a lengthy disclaimer giving the government the right to use the information to contact the sender.

September 13, 2016