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Hungary closes its door to migrants

07 October 2016


Stranded: hundreds of migrants in Serbia marched towards the border with Hungary to protest its closure

Stranded: hundreds of migrants in Serbia marched towards the border with Hungary to protest its closure

HUNGARY’S Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has signalled changes to the country’s constitution after the weekend’s referendum on the EU’s migrant resettlement policy. An overwhelming 98 per cent of voters backed Mr Orbán’s rejection of the EU’s plan; but the turnout was below the 50 per cent required to be legally valid.

The referendum was part of Mr Orbán’s campaign against what he calls the Islamisation of Europe by refugees and asylum-seekers. He told the country’s parliament in April that Hungary’s constitution existed to safeguard the country’s language and culture.

“We have the right to choose whom we wish to live together with and whom we do not wish to live together with,” he said. “To be clear and unequivocal, I can say that Islamisation is constitutionally banned in Hungary.”

On Wednesday, the country’s parliament was due to debate constitutional changes that would outlaw any EU-imposed resettlement of migrants in Hungary without the consent of the parliament; or any acceptance of asylum status unless an individual request had been examined and approved by Hungarian authorities. The changes require a two-thirds approval of MPs.

“In Hungary, 3.3 million voters decided they will not let others decide for them on resettlement of migrants,” Mr Orbán told journalists on Tuesday. “It is a question of sovereignty, and no decision in Brussels can question Hungary’s inalienable right to decide on its territorial integrity and population.”

He has frequently argued that mass migration of Muslims into Europe would destroy the “European identity rooted in Christianity”.

In a separate move, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) has reported that the Hungarian government is setting up a new department to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and “the subtle forms of discrimination some Christians face in Europe”.

“Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four of them are Christians,” Hungary’s Human Resources minister, Zoltán Balog, told CNA. “In 81 countries around the world Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.”

The Hungarian government “will do everything in our power to improve the circumstances of Christians living in the Middle Eastern region,” Mr Balog said, as he explained that the new ministry would help to stem immigration flows into Europe: “We feel that improving the situation in the troubled countries might make it possible for persecuted minorities to stay at home or close to home,” he said.

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