Friday

12th Apr 2024

Orban demonises immigrants at Paris march

  • "I hope that a composed, calm analysis of the recent events will guide European leaders and Brussels towards a tough policy restricting immigration," said Orban (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

A French press watchdog has highlighted the hypocrisy of some VIPs at Sunday’s (11 January) march in Paris, while Hungarian PM Viktor Orban used the event to call for a crackdown on immigration.

Orban told Hungarian state TV in the margins of the rally, held in support of free speech and tolerance in Europe, that the Charlie Hebdo murders should make the EU restrict access to migrants with “different cultural characteristics”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Referring to the flow of African and Arab migrants to the EU, he said: “Economic immigration is a bad thing in Europe, it should not be seen as having any benefits, because it only brings trouble and danger to the peoples of Europe".

"Immigration and cultural questions related to that must be discussed in a much more open, honest and straightforward manner than until now. I hope that a composed, calm analysis of the recent events will guide European leaders and Brussels towards a tough policy restricting immigration”, he added.

“While I am PM, Hungary will definitely not become an immigration destination. We don't want to see significantly sized minorities with different cultural characteristics and backgrounds among us. We want to keep Hungary as Hungary".

His remarks come amid concerns the Charlie Hebdo killings - carried out in the name of Islam after the magazine published cartoons of Mohammed - will increase the popularity of Europe’s far-right parties and movements.

Members and associates of Orban’s Fidesz party have in recent years attracted notoriety for anti-Semitic and anti-Roma statements.

Hungary also ranked at just 64 in the 2014 World Press Freedom index published by French NGO Reporters Without Borders - the fourth lowest in the EU after Croatia (65), Greece (99) and Bulgaria (100).

In June last year, Hungary imposed a tax on media advertising revenue, hitting independent broadcasters such as RTL Klub, while granting exemptions to loyalist TV stations, such as TV2.

The Croatian, Greek, and Bulgarian leaders also attended the Paris rally.

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov told Bulgarian media he might be willing to table new legislation on greater transparency of oligarch ownership of leading media.

But he denied his country has a serious problem.

“With our presence here we showed that we value this freedom and support it”, he said.

The French NGO also singled out high-profile visitors from Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for criticism.

Algeria (ranked 121 in the press freedom ranking) has a blanket ban on public demonstrations, prompting the Algerie-Focus website to note the irony that its foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, was on the streets of the French capital.

“Marches and public protests are banned in Algeria, but Algerian ministers have the right to march in the streets of ... Paris!”, it said.

Gabon is ranked 98. Egypt (159), Russia (148), and Turkey (154) are among the world’s top jailers of critical reporters, while the UAE slipped backward three places to 118 in the French watchdog’s last assessment.

“We should show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting the world’s other ‘Charlies’,” Reporters Without Borders’ secretary general Christophe Deloire said on Sunday.

“It would be intolerable [if] representatives from countries that reduce their journalists to silence profit from this emotional outpouring to … improve their international image”, he added.

“We should not allow the predators of the press to spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo”.

Saudi Arabia also sent dignitaries to the Paris event.

They attended despite the fact Saudi authorities, on Friday, flogged Raif Badawi, a blogger who writes in support of liberal democracy and free speech, in a public square in Jeddah.

An Arabic cartoon published on Twitter on Sunday showed pencils being flayed by whips.

One woman at the Paris event also carried a placard which said “I am Raif Badawi, the Saudi journalist who was flogged” in reference to the "I am Charlie" solidarity slogan, British daily The Guardian reports.

Opinion

Potential legal avenues to prosecute Navalny's killers

The UN could launch an independent international investigation into Navalny's killing, akin to investigation I conducted on Jamal Khashoggi's assassination, or on Navalny's Novichok poisoning, in my role as special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, writes the secretary-general of Amnesty International.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us