The man who thinks Europe has been invaded

From the BBC:

In January 2015, four days after the terror attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, an estimated 1.5 million people marched through Paris.

Viktor Orban was one of 40 world leaders at their head, standing in solidarity for freedom of expression and against terror.

Different countries drew different conclusions from the Charlie Hebdo murders, and later terror attacks.

Orban was clear from the first moment who to blame. Immigrants.

The troubled family background of the perpetrators, their upbringing in an orphanage, the radicalisation they succumbed to — all these were of no interest to Orban.

He told Hungarian TV: “We will never allow Hungary to become a target country for immigrants. We do not want to see significantly sized minorities with different cultural characteristics and backgrounds among us. We want to keep Hungary as Hungary.”

It was a narrative that Orban had used before but then started to exploit tirelessly to win votes at home.

In 2015 and 2016, in addition to a wave of terror attacks, Europe faced another challenge — the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees.

By equating migrants with terrorists Orban tried to offer both a simple explanation and a simple solution.

Most of those coming were not refugees, fleeing war and persecution, he explained. They were economic migrants wanting a better life in Western Europe.

His message struck a chord with many Hungarians.

Orban asked his population in a referendum in October 2016 whether they wanted the EU to “impose migrants” on Hungary. He got a resounding “no” from the 41% of the electorate who cast a valid vote, although that turnout was too low to make the final result count.

Hungary’s population has long been falling — 30,000 people a year, equivalent to the loss of a small town.

The solution is not immigration, but rather to encourage Hungarian families to have more children, Orban believes.

To understand why an anti-immigration agenda might be so successful, it’s necessary to explore Hungary’s history.

Less than 2% of the Hungarian population was born outside the country.

And Hungarians have long memories of foreign invasion – of being overrun by the Turks, the Austrians and the Russians.

In 1920, the Treaty of Trianon settled the post-World War One borders of Hungary, one of the successor states of the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hungary lost 72% of her territory, and 31% of ethnic Hungarians found themselves outside her borders as minorities in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Hungary was also deprived of her multicultural communities – the many Romanians, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats and Ruthenians who had previously lived side-by-side with Hungarians.

In World War Two, most of her large Jewish population was murdered in death camps, and in the post-war deportations she lost many of the Germans who had settled in Hungary since the 18th Century.

Hungary had been emptied of all but her Hungarians.

There’s a historical and literary parable that Viktor Orban likes. Every Hungarian schoolchild reads Geza Gardonyi’s novel — The Eclipse of the Crescent Moon.

It’s 1552 and the castle of Eger in northern Hungary is besieged by a huge Ottoman army. Captain Istvan Dobo and his tiny garrison defend the town and send the Turks packing. The hero is Gergely Bornemissza, an explosives expert who plays a central role in the defence of the fortress.

Other Hungarian castles fell to the Turks in the following decades but only after inflicting such losses on the invaders that their advance into Europe faltered, then failed.

In September 2015 at the monastery of Banz in Bavaria, Orban conjured up the spirit of the 16th Century. He told his admirers from the German centre-right that he was just a captain, defending the outer castles from the same Muslim enemy, intent on swamping Christian Europe.

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