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Hungarian Leader Rebuked for Saying Muslim Migrants Must Be Blocked ‘to Keep Europe Christian’

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    Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was criticized online and in person on Thursday for writing in a German newspaper that it was important to secure his nation’s borders from mainly Muslim migrants “to keep Europe Christian.”

    “Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,” Mr. Orban wrote in a commentary for Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”

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    "Those who are overwhelmed cannot offer shelter to anyone" - opinion piece of PM #Orbán published in the @faznet http://t.co/H7MogCsZAd

    — Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) Sept. 3, 2015

    “Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” Mr. Orban asked. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”

    Before meeting with Mr. Orban on Thursday in Brussels, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents European Union leaders, thanked him for securing Europe’s borders, but took issue with the argument of Mr. Orban’s opinion article.

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    My press remarks on #migration before meeting PM Orbán today: http://t.co/AoGiwX2wzc. #migrationEU pic.twitter.com/IrCKE3UV37

    — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) Sept. 3, 2015

    “I want to underline that for me, Christianity in public and social life means a duty to our brothers in need,” Mr. Tusk said as he stood alongside Mr. Orban.

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    Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, commenting on an opinion piece by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. Wolfgang Buck, via YouTube

    “Referring to Christianity in a public debate on migration must mean in the first place the readiness to show solidarity and sacrifice. For a Christian it shouldn’t matter what race, religion and nationality the person in need represents.”

    Mr. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, drew attention to his rebuke of the Hungarian leader on social networks, and his office posted video of his comments on YouTube.

    Mr. Orban waited until the end of the day to respond to Mr. Tusk. At a separate news conference in which he faced reporters alone, he reiterated the theme of his article, that Europe was at risk of being “overrun” and had to shut its borders. The Hungarian prime minister argued that European countries had no obligation to accept most of the migrants, as “the overwhelming majority of people are not refugees because they are not coming from a war-stricken area.”

    “Our Christian obligation is not to create illusions,” he said.

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    Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary discussed migration at a news conference in Brussels on Thursday. European Commission Audiovisual Services, via YouTube

    Mr. Orban went on to invoke Hungary’s historical experience as part of the Ottoman Empire, which ended more than three centuries ago, as an explanation for its current opposition to Muslim immigrants.

    “During my meeting today with President Tusk we also discussed history; we talked about our own experiences,” Mr. Orban said. “I have to say that when it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we are the only ones who have experience because we had the possibility to go through that experience for 150 years.”

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    #migration orban invokes ottomans in hungary as reasons why hungarians don't want to live with muslims

    — Ian Traynor (@traynorbrussels) Sept. 3, 2015

    “Polish people for example suffered from Christian people – not to name names,” he added, in what appeared to be a reference to Nazi Germany.

    Viewed from Hungary, Mr. Orban continued, the experience of multicultural living in Western Europe did not look appealing.

    “We don’t want to criticize France, Belgium, any other country,” he said, but “we think all countries have a right to decide whether they want to have a large number of Muslims in their countries. If they want to live together with them, they can. We don’t want to and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see.”

    Mr. Orban’s formulation echoed notorious remarks made by the poet T.S. Eliot in 1933, another moment in history when Europeans expressed fears of being overwhelmed by a “flood” of non-Christian immigrants.

    “The population should be homogeneous; where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely either to be fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate,” Mr. Eliot said in a lecture at the University of Virginia. “What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable.”

    There was quite a lot of condemnation on social networks for Mr. Orban’s frank remarks, but also some praise from nationalists and anti-Muslim bloggers.

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    Mr. #Orbán should have stayed behind the Iron Curtain. His mindset hasn't changed since then at all. Such persons can't represent the #EU.

    — Nedad Memić (@NedadMemic) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Shame on you, Mister Orban! #refugees

    — Karin Leitner (@KarinLeitner1) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán is a #hero. Thank you for standing firm Viktor. #Hungary #migrantcrisis #migrants #EU #Europe

    — Rob Hicks (@bigbadrob68) Sept. 3, 2015
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    The greatest threat to our "European Values" are not refugees. It is people like #Orban.

    — Peter Kraus (@peterkraus) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Disturbed & appalled by statement from Hungarian PM pursuing religious division in midst of crisis of shared humanity http://t.co/mS7Xlk3jBK

    — Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Forget Grexit and Brexit. Can we kick Viktor Orban out of the EU? The man is a disgrace. #refugeesarewelcome.

    — Dimi Reider (@dimireider) Sept. 3, 2015
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    A voice of reason in the current hysteria. "Hungary PM says the influx of Muslim refugees poses a threat to Europe’s Christian identity"

    — David Vance (@DVATW) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Has #Orban forgotten that, after the Soviet crackdown in 1956, 180,000 Hungarians fled to Austria and 20,000 to Yugoslavia?

    — Wenzel Michalski (@WenzelMichalski) Sept. 3, 2015
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    Possible @Viktor_Orban's border fence scheme all part of secret plan to win Republican nomination? Today, Brussels; tomorrow, New Hampshire!

    — Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) Sept. 3, 2015
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    #Hungary is trying to protect everyone The migrants and other #EU countries. Respect to PM Orban

    — WHAT IS PURDAH? (@MRWHOKIP) Sept. 3, 2015

    At #Nyugati march for #refugees has just started. Hungarian citizens telling #Orban: #notinmyname #refugeeswelcome pic.twitter.com/9BsBwISo4p

    — Terry Reintke (@TerryReintke) Sept. 3, 2015


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