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Hungary’s anti-migrant campaign takes root as villagers vent fury

Startbeitrag von Moderator. am 06.10.2017 09:38

Hungary’s anti-migrant campaign takes root as villagers vent fury

What happened [in Ocseny] was not civil disobedience or resistance, but the first step towards lynching

Orban accused of stoking race hatred as hotelier attacked for offer to host refugees

When Zoltan Fenyesi offered a free holiday at his guesthouse to a group of refugees, he thought the act might become an example of Hungarian hospitality. By introducing them to his neighbours in Ocseny, a village of 2,300 in south-west Hungary, he hoped it might also prove the refugees posed no danger.

Instead his offer last month provoked a vicious public backlash. A fraught town hall meeting called to discuss the invitation was captured on camera by local media, Mr Fenyesi received death threats and the clashes sparked an anguished national debate over how far ordinary Hungarians should go in fending off foreigners. In the process, Ocseny has become a byword for racial fear.

“I thought if I prepared logical arguments for people, I could convince them,” says Mr Fenyesi. “But it was impossible — most were spilling over with rage.”

Viktor Orban, the prime minister, last Friday backed the protest by Ocseny villagers, bringing the story to national attention and alarming liberal critics who accuse the premier and his government of stoking racial hatred.

The Ocseny incident comes as the populist-nationalist Fidesz government is sending leaflets to every household in a “national consultation” over an alleged plan by George Soros, the Hungary-born billionaire investor, to flood Europe with refugees.

Budapest has also refused to accept a European Court of Justice ruling that rejected an appeal by Hungary and Slovakia against a 2015 EU plan for member states to take compulsory quotas of migrants.

Mr Orban’s hardline stance has opened a deep political divide with some EU allies, notably Angela Merkel, German chancellor, who has herself come under fire for her decision to open her country’s doors to more than 1m asylum seekers.

Critics fear his policies, and anti-migrant rhetoric from pro-government media, are sowing the kind of hatred among the public highlighted by the clashes in Ocseny.

“Nobody wants them here — nobody!” one local opponent shouted at the town hall meeting when news of the refugee invitation spread. “They are Muslims — they have no honour,” said another. Many seemed to believe the refugees were not fully human, according to the town’s former mayor, who resigned after the row.

Zoltan Fenyesi says he received death threats after offering to host refugees in his guesthouse in southwest Hungary

After the meeting two men confronted Mr Fenyesi outside a local pub and threatened to cut off his head, he says. The next morning, he found his car tyres slashed.

“What happened [in Ocseny] was not civil disobedience or resistance, but the first step towards lynching,” wrote Andras Sztankoczy, a conservative columnist, in a Hungarian newspaper last weekend.

Despite the threats against Mr Fenyesi, Mr Orban said there was “nothing wrong” with the protests.

“Hungarians love children and always like to help the weak, but they have been so often lied to when it comes to migration. So if they are told that children will come, they will say: first it’s children, then parents, then family reunification and then we are in trouble,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an EU summit in Tallinn on Friday.

“It’s quite right that they express their opinion firmly, loudly and clearly.”

Opponents have criticised Mr Orban for...............

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