Hun­gary anti-bur­den shar­ing ref­er­en­dum

Hun­gary anti-bur­den shar­ing ref­er­en­dum be­ing held to­day

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

A woman walks past a poster that reads “Let’s send a mes­sage to Bu­da­pest, so they also un­der­stand! A stupid an­swer to a stupid ques­tion! Cast an in­valid vote! – in op­po­si­tion to Hun­gar­ian Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban’s con­tro­ver­sial mi­grant poli­cies. Hun­gar­i­ans vote to­day in a ref­er­en­dum which Prime Min­is­ter Or­ban hopes will give his gov­ern­ment the pop­u­lar sup­port it seeks to op­pose any fu­ture plans by the Euro­pean Union to re­set­tle asy­lum seek­ers among its mem­ber states

Hun­gary is hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum to­day against fu­ture Euro­pean Union quo­tas for ac­cept­ing asy­lum seek­ers, but the schemes al­ready in place to en­sure EU mem­bers take a fair share of the mi­grants reach­ing Europe are barely work­ing.

In Septem­ber last year the EU de­cided to move 160,000 asy­lum seek­ers from Italy and Greece to other Euro­pean coun­tries. Once re­lo­cated, refugees with a ‘high chance’ of be­ing granted asy­lum would wait for a de­ci­sion on their ap­pli­ca­tions and, in the event of suc­cess, re­ceive per­mis­sion to set­tle in the coun­try to which there had been re­lo­cated.

Un­der this sys­tem, Hun­gary would re­ceive 1,294 asy­lum­seek­ers and Slo­vakia 902. Both coun­tries re­ject the manda­tory quo­tas and are chal­leng­ing the EU’s shar­ing scheme.

Malta is to re­ceive 189 refugees un­der the bur­den-shar­ing plan.

The Hun­gar­ian gov­ern­ment, con­tend­ing that there is a di­rect link be­tween mi­grants and ter­ror­ism, is seek­ing a pop­u­lar man­date in to­day’s vote for its op­po­si­tion to ac­cept­ing any manda­tory EU quo­tas for re­set­tling asy­lum-seek­ers.

Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban has said Hun­gar­i­ans have “no prob­lems” with the lo­cal Mus­lim com­mu­nity, but he be­lieves any EU quo­tas to re­lo­cate asy­lum-seek­ers, in­clud­ing many Mus­lims, would de­stroy Hun­gary’s Chris­tian iden­tity and cul­ture.

Or­ban hopes that a re­jec­tion of EU quo­tas in the ref­er­en­dum will be mim­icked by oth­ers and force Brus­sels to re­con­sider the scheme. A poll taken in Au­gust by the Publi­cus In­sti­tute for the Vasar­napi Hirek news­pa­per found 35 per cent of the 1,000 peo­ple polled said it was oblig­a­tory to help refugees, down from 64 per cent in Septem­ber 2015.

Some 5,600 Mus­lims live in Hun­gary, ac­cord­ing to the 2011 cen­sus – the lat­est avail­able.

On Fri­day, about 30 peo­ple took part in a ‘Mus­lims liv­ing among us’ walk­ing tour in a Bu­da­pest neigh­bour­hood, an ef­fort to counter prej­u­dice.

Gov­ern­ment bill­boards and me­dia ads have drawn a di­rect link be­tween mi­gra­tion and ter­ror­ism, have warned Hun­gar­i­ans that mil­lions more mi­grants may soon be head­ing for Europe and as­serted that cases of ha­rass­ment of women in Europe have risen greatly since the start of the mi­grant cri­sis.

Speak­ing last Septem­ber at a meet­ing of Hun­gar­ian diplo­mats, Or­ban said the Mus­lims in Hun­gary were a “valu­able as­set” and he wanted to avoid caus­ing “awk­ward sit­u­a­tions, even at the ver­bal level” for them.

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