Refugee-hostile Hungary urges Europe to protect Christians
Viktor Orban says ‘fate and God’ compel Hungary to defend Christians
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban: “The world should understand that what is at stake today is nothing less than the future of the European way of life, and of our identity.” Photograph: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has urged other European leaders to join him in helping protect Christians from persecution, even as he rejects EU efforts to resettle Muslim refugees around the bloc.
Addressing a Budapest conference on threats facing Christian communities, Mr Orban warned that “the fate of Christians in the Middle East should bring home to Europe that what is happening over there may also happen to us”.
“Europe, however, is forcefully pursuing an immigration policy which results in letting extremists, dangerous extremists, into the territory of the European Union, ” he told an audience that included church leaders from the Middle East.
“A group of Europe’s intellectual and political leaders wishes to create a mixed society in Europe which, within just a few generations, will utterly transform the cultural and ethnic composition of our continent – and consequently its Christian identity,” Mr Orban argued.
“The world should understand that what is at stake today is nothing less than the future of the European way of life, and of our identity.”
Hungary built fences on its southern borders to block mostly Muslim refugees and migrants in 2015, and leads widespread opposition in central Europe to a Brussels-backed quota plan to relocate refugees around the EU.
Mr Orban has called migration “a Trojan horse for terrorism” and is expected to campaign for re-election next spring on a pledge to defend Hungary from an alleged plot between the EU and billionaire liberal financier George Soros to flood Europe with refugees; opponents accuse him of peddling fear and conspiracy theories.
“For us, Europe is a Christian continent, and this is how we want to keep it. Even though we may not be able to keep all of it Christian, at least we can do so for the segment that God has entrusted to the Hungarian people,” Mr Orban said.
Lamenting how other “well-intentioned truly Christian politicians” in Europe were shackled by “coalition governments” and “media industries with attitudes very different from theirs”, Mr Orban argued that Hungary’s stability under his seven-year rule placed the country “in a position to speak up for persecuted Christians”.
“This is how fate and God have compelled Hungary to take the initiative, regardless of its size,” he said.
The government says that its “Hungary Helps” scheme has allocated several million euro to build or repair homes, schools and churches in the Middle East, to provide medical aid and assist the Syrian Catholic and Orthodox churches, and to fund scholarships for Christian and Muslim students from the region.
Mr Orban said Hungary is “doing the very opposite of what is customary in Europe today: we declare that trouble should not be brought here, but assistance must be taken to where it is needed”.
Critics say Hungary’s refugee policy makes a mockery of Christian teaching.
“Prime minister Orban often speaks of Hungary as a Christian nation,” Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty said on Thursday in a speech to students at the Soros-funded Central European University in Budapest.
“I am not competent to define or expound Christianity. But a faith which follows a man who started his life fleeing from persecution and growing up as a refugee in Egypt does not provide a strong ideological footing for building fences which keep refugees at bay.”