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HomeGeopolitical CompassEurope, Russia, OceaniaUsing Fear of the “Other,” Orbán Reshapes Migration Policy in a Hungary...

Using Fear of the “Other,” Orbán Reshapes Migration Policy in a Hungary Built on Cultural Diversity

Author: Elżbieta M. Goździak

Affiliation: Central European University

 Organization/Publisher: MPI – Migration Policy Institute

Date/Place: October 10, 2019/ Washington

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count:  4803


Keywords: Stop Soros, Migration Policy, Fidesz Party


Despite the fact that the Status of Refugees of the 1951 Geneva Convention constitutes the basis of Hungarian refugee law, and Hungary always being a place of immigration, immigration from non-European countries to Hungary is new. As soon as Hungary became a party to the Refugee Convention in 1989, it ratified the protocol from 1967 –only refugees who fear persecution in Europe will be recognized as such. Although Hungary implemented refugee protection standards to a certain extent since joining the EU in 2004, xenophobic attitudes especially towards Muslim refugees are increasing. The author criticizes Hungary for not accepting the EU decision to find shelter for 1,294 refugees in 2015/2016, and instead spent “approximately 28 million Euros on a xenophobic anti-immigrant campaign.” People were mobilized to be the defenders of the “Christian identity” as well as the “Christian values” against the “Muslim Other,” who is “known” for its “women bearing many children.” This “fear of the other “led to a series of anti-immigrant actions by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party, which the author talks about in detail. Some of the policies of the Orbán government include the “Stop Soros” bill (assisting refugees is treated as a crime), the closure of refugee camps, recruiting “border hunters,” and limiting application for asylum to “transit zones” in the Serbian-Hungarian border, where grim conditions are worsened by denying food to asylum seekers required to stay in the zone during the duration of the asylum procedure. Refugees who illegally cross the border or damage the border closure can face three to ten years of imprisonment due to the amended Criminal Code in 2015. The author says that state TV was forbidden to broadcast images of refugee children in order to hinder sympathy towards refugees. The task to show the life of the refugees was taken by volunteers and activists on Facebook, who created the photo blog “Budapest Seen.” Elżbieta M. Goździak concludes her analysis by stating that many civil society organizations nowadays are no longer working with refugees but concentrate their work on the Roma or the homeless due to the “Stop Soros” bill. 

By: Dilek Yücel-Kamadan, CIGA Research Associate



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