Friday 28 October 2016

'Pigs heads would deter Muslims' - MEP

Nick Squires

Published 23/08/2016 | 02:30

Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban. Photo: Reuters

Severed pigs' heads should be hung along Hungary's border to deter Muslim refugees and migrants from entering the country, an MEP has suggested.

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Gyorgy Schopflin, a member of the Right-wing government of Viktor Orban, the prime minister, sparked outrage and disbelief with the suggestion.

He made it during an ill-­tempered exchange on ­Twitter with a human rights ­campaigner.

Andrew Stroehlein, European media director for Human Rights Watch, posted a tweet in which he criticised Hungary for using bizarre, totemic masks made out of beetroot to scare refugees trying to cross the border from neighbouring Serbia.

The existence of the ­ghoulish vegetable heads was first ­reported last week. It is not clear who made them but there has reportedly been no effort by Hungarian police or soldiers to take them down.

"Refugees are fleeing war & torture, Hungary. Your root vegetable heads will not deter them," Mr Stroehlein tweeted.

The MEP, a former academic who is a member of the governing Fidesz party, wrote back: "Might do so. Human images are haram. But agree, pig's head would deter more effectively."

On Twitter, the politician was accused of peddling "hate speech" and there were demands for his resignation. He was described as "a sad old man full of hate" and his comment was branded as ­"disgusting".

In an interview, Mr ­Stroehlein said the remark about the pigs' heads was "grossly offensive".

"It is a very strange and bizarre thing to come out of the mouth of an MEP, especially one who was once a respected historian," he said. "It's as if he thinks pork is some sort of kryptonite against Muslims.

"To judge by the rhetoric from some Hungarian politicians, you would think this was the 16th century, with Ottoman armies invading. Their whole approach has been to demonise people who are trying to escape war and torture."

The pigs' head suggestion reflected a deep current of anti-migrant feeling within the Hungarian government, Mr Stroehlein added.

Hungary closed its southern border with Serbia last year as around a million refugees and migrants, many of them from Syria, sought to travel from Turkey, through Greece and along the Balkan route to Germany and Scandinavia.

Irish Independent

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