‘Stupid and Dangerous’
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is facing a backlash following a controversial speech this week where he said that Europeans should not “become peoples of mixed race,” prompting accusations of racism and antisemitism, the Washington Post reported.
Orban’s remarks came during an annual address to members of the Hungarian minority in Romania over the weekend. The far-right leader also made a joke about Nazi gas chambers in reference to the European Union’s proposal to ration natural gas following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The comments sparked outrage among his critics, foreign officials and Holocaust groups, with the latter describing Orban’s remarks as “stupid and dangerous.”
But the biggest blow came following the resignation of Zsuzsa Hegedüs, a sociologist and longtime adviser to Orban. Hegedüs, who is Jewish, publicly criticized Orban’s speech as “a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels,” and the “racist” culmination of an increasingly “illiberal turn.”
The prime minister directly addressed Hegedüs, countering that his government “follows a zero-tolerance policy on both antisemitism and racism.”
Orban’s anti-immigration rhetoric and views on multicultural societies are not new: During the height of the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, he said Muslims threaten Europe’s Christian identity. Two years later, his government erected a border fence to keep Syrians and other immigrants out of Hungary.
Meanwhile, Orban’s supporters and foreign allies remained silent on the matter, including Poland’s right-wing ruling party which has been a strong supporter of the prime minister.
Both countries have been sparring with the EU over a number of issues, including rule of law, press freedoms and judicial independence. Hungary has been a major beneficiary of bloc subsidies but EU leaders have withheld some payments to the country from a pandemic recovery fund because of Hungarian violations of EU laws and norms.
And Poland has recently fallen out with Hungary over the Ukraine war: Poland is a staunch supporter of Ukraine, supplying weapons and hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees, while Orban has maintained close ties to Russia.
European officials said that Hungary was the only EU country to vote against the bloc’s plan to wean itself off Russian natural gas supplies.