'Refugees Are Muslim Invaders': Hungarian PM Ratchets Up Anti-migration Rhetoric

Hungary is refusing to take in refugees because it considers them as "Muslim invaders" rather than asylum seekers, the country's prime minister has claimed.

Hungary is among a number of European countries that have refused to take a significant portion of refugees coming from the Middle East, where people have been fleeing from wars and persecutions.

However, hard-line politician Viktor Orban believes that those who flee their countries are not running for their lives.

"For example, to arrive from Syria in Hungary, you have to cross four countries, all of which are not as rich as Germany, but stable. So they are not running for their lives there already," he told German newspaper Bild.

Orban further explained that unlike Germany, which has welcomed more than one million asylum seekers with is open door policy, his country does not want any migration.

"I can only speak for the Hungarian people, and they don't want any migration," he said. "In my understanding, it's not possible for the people to have a will on a fundamental issue and for the government not to comply with it."

The 54-year-old politician claimed that he does not believed in "multiculturalism", which he said is just an illusion, and called for European leaders to stop migrations to defend Europe's interests.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a joint news conference with Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (not pictured) in Budapest, Hungary January 4, 2018. Orban said his country is refusing to take in refugees because it considers them as "Muslim invaders" rather than asylum seekers. REUTERS/Bernadett Szab

Hungary and Slovakia challenged a European Union migrant relocation deal drawn in 2015 to ease pressure on countries such as Italy and Greece, where hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have relocated in recent years.

Hungary was expected to take nearly 1,300 asylum seekers as part of the relocation program. Last September, the European Court of Justice overruled the two country's objections to the quota system.

"There has been growing opposition toward the EU's refugee quota system not only from Hungary but also the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria," Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at Rutherford College, University of Kent, told Newsweek.

"Some of these countries have refused to take their share of refugees and so have been legally challenged by the EU."

This is not the first time that Orban, known for his strong stance against migration, has stirred criticism. Some analysts believe the politician, in office since 2010, is increasing his anti-immigration rhetoric in the lead up to April elections, which he is expected to win.

"This debate is ongoing and unlikely to disappear soon, not least because Viktor Orban has a national election approaching and will want to capitalize on his opposition to the EU," Goodwin explained.

'We will restore democracy'

Just last week, Orban said European countries will restore democracy if governments match the will of the people who, he said, oppose migration.

"Europeans have a clear will," Orbán said during a press conference in Bavaria. "They don't want to live under the threat of terrorism, they want security, they want their borders to be protected."

"I told our Bavarian friends that I believe 2018 will be the year of the restoration of the will of the people in Europe," he said.

Hungary migration
A young migrant boy waits in front of the Hungarian border fence at the Tompa border station transit zone on April 6, 2017. Hungary built barbed wire fences along its borders with Serbia and Croatia to keep migrants out. ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

Migration is 'a poison'

In the summer of 2016, he called migration "a poison" and said he did not want a single migrant to enter his country.

"Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future," he said during a press conference in Budapest.

"For us migration is not a solution but a problem ... not medicine but a poison, we don't need it and won't swallow it."

Migration 'Trojan wooden horse of terrorism'

In 2015, Hungary built barbed wire fences along its borders with Serbia and Croatia to keep migrants out. The move drew widespread condemnation from rights groups and other European politicians. At the time, Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta said the fences evoked the rise of the Nazi era.

"It looks like Europe in the 1930s. And did we solve the refugee problem with this? No, we didn't," Ponta said, according to Reuters. "Erecting a fence only throws the problem into Serbia, into Croatia, into Romania."

In 2016, Orban vowed his country would build a new, "more massive fence" to stem migration influx, which he said was the "Trojan wooden horse of terrorism."

Orban claimed the EU should pay half of the €800 million total border protection cost, as a sign of solidarity with Hungary's efforts to protect "all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants." The request was promptly rejected.