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Refugee holiday prevented by residents

October 2nd, 2017

Critics of the government excoriate PM Viktor Orbán for saying he had no problem with the inhabitants of a small village in southern Hungary who protested against a guesthouse owner because he planned to host a group of refugees for a short holiday.

The initiative was organised by Migration Aid, an NGO which has actively supported migrants ever since the mass wave of illegal immigration two years ago. The group to be hosted at Őcsény, in Tolna county, consisted mainly of children and women who had just been granted protected status in Hungary. Residents threatened the guesthouse owner and the tyres of his car were slashed. In the end, the holiday was called off and the mayor of Őcsény resigned in protest against the public mood. Whether the Prime Minister was aware of these details is unclear, but in reply to a reporter’s question in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, he told journalists he understood the concern of local residents, who had ‘heard so many lies about migrants’ and ‘could not be sure if the initiative would be confined to a few women and children’. 

Sztárklikk carries an impassioned diatribe against the PM by sociologist Mária Vásárhelyi who calls him ‘a psychopath rotten to the core, suffering from power madness’. She also describes Hungarian society as ‘wallowing in hatred’, because they elected Mr Orbán to head their government. She adds that governing party politicians must all be dishonest to tolerate what happened without raising their voices. People who are capable of this much would not shrink from ‘any kind of vile and inhuman deeds’, she writes.

Válasz’s István Sztankóczy also disagrees with the Prime Minister, although without anger. Over the years, he claims, Mr Orbán was right to criticise the mainstream western media for ‘ignoring or demonizing’ those who warn against uncontrolled mass immigration, while in Hungary arguments both for and against immigration have been published extensively This time, however, intolerance has been shown by local residents and some resorted to illegal means, which should have been condemned. In an aside, Sztankóczy remarks that the Hungarian authorities have so far made a neat distinction between refugees and illegal migrants while the Prime Minister just called the would-be vacationers ‘migrants’, although they are legally staying in Hungary.

In Magyar Nemzet, Melinda Farkas thinks the main losers of the case are the inhabitants of Őcsény themselves who have lost a successful and popular mayor and ‘something even more precious as well’, namely the peace that has reigned there for the fourteen years of his time in office. Now groups of local residents have suddenly become hostile to each other. Farkas warns, however, against laying all the blame on the villagers. She explains that villages are traditionally closed communities and believes that it was a very bad idea of Migration Aid to choose such a settlement for their project in a period with tensions running high, without preparing local people for it.

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