The head of the Hungarian village declared war on Muslims

Tue, 14.02.2017 18:48

The Hungarian village of Asotthalom has only two Muslim residents, but that hasn't stopped its mayor from declaring war on Muslim immigration.

The mayor, Laszlo Toroczkai, recently banned hijabs and other head coverings worn by Muslim women, as well as mosques and the call to prayer. "A politician who does not see what is going on in Europe is either blind or is a liar. The uncontrolled mass immigration will irreversibly change Europe," Toroczkai explained in an email.

Although parliament will debate the ban later this month, and an official complaint against it is being processed by the court system, the slow response has raised concerns. Is Toroczkai one man run amok, or do his views represent the wider population in Hungary?

"What worries me is the widespread lack of condemnation by Hungarian decision-makers," said Todor Gardos, a researcher with the London-based human rights group Amnesty International. He called the local decree "clearly unconstitutional."

A prolonged court battle would send dangerous signals, human rights advocates say. "Such laws legitimize xenophobia and homophobia. They entrench a hostile attitude which then paves the way for more anti-immigration laws. It's quite a vicious cycle," Gardos said. Responding to questions by The Washington Post, Toroczkai vowed he would effectively reinstate his ban should it be struck down by the country's higher courts.

Although there has been a spike in xenophobia in Hungary since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015, hostility toward asylum seekers has been on a steady rise for years. In the past decade, the number of Hungarians opposed to accepting any asylum seekers has more than doubled, rising to 53 percent last year.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has depicted himself as one of the only European leaders willing to defend the continent's Christians. In Sept. 2015, he said that Muslims were threatening Europe's Christian identity, framing the issue as a clash between different civilizations.

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Source: stripes.com

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