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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Hungarian PM positions himself as Christian saviour of Europe

Viktor Orban took aim at migrants and Islam in his annual state of the nation speech

Hungarian Prime Minister  Viktor Orban, positioned himself as the savior of christian Europe
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, positioned himself as the savior of christian Europe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has claimed that Hungary is Europe’s last hope in staving off a takeover from the “Islamic world”.

Speaking from Budapest’s Royal Castle in his annual state of the nation speech on Sunday night, Mr Orban took aim at migrants and the growth of Islam. “We are those who think that Europe’s last hope is Christianity … If hundreds of millions of young people are allowed to move north, there will be enormous pressure on Europe. If all this continues, in the big cities of Europe there will be a Muslim majority”, he said.

He said his government stood in solidarity with “those western European people and leaders who want to save their country and their Christian culture”.

The Prime Minister also accused politicians in “Brussels, Berlin and Paris” of causing the “decline of Christian culture and the advance of Islam”. He also claimed that his government had “prevented the Islamic world from flooding us from the south”.

In the speech, he compared the effects of immigration on a country’s development, to those of influence on the human body.

Mr Orban also issued a stark warning to pro-refuge NGOs operating in Hungary "If they do not stop their dangerous activities, we will simply expel them from the land, no matter how powerful or rich they may be".

Legislation proposed by Mr Orban’s party would levy a 25% tax on international funding for NGO’s working with migrants in Hungary. It would also bar the organisation’s employees from working in camps close to the borders. The hard-line bill, which was sent to parliament on Wednesday was named after Hungarian-American financier George Soros, who has funded open-border values across Europe.

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The Hungarian PM also called for a global coalition against migration in a speech which many see will set the tone for his right-wing populist Fidesz party’s campaign in the approaching elections scheduled for April.

The 54-year old cemented his anti-migrant credentials in 2015, when, at the height of the migration crisis, he built a double barbed wire fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia and Croatia.

He referred to western Europe as an "immigrant zone, a mixed population world that heads in a direction different from ours’ and claimed that migration, especially from Africa would see "our worst nightmares come true. The West falls as it fails to see Europe being overrun."

With a divided opposition, Fidesz is largely expected to secure a third term at the elections. He has been ahead in nearly all polls.

However, his populism has come at a cost for Hungary. Human rights advocates have voiced concerns over the decline of human rights in the country, and in recent years the press has been stifled. Some have gone as far as to label his methods authoritarian.