The Hungarian Border Barrier and Islam

in Journal of Muslims in Europe
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The co-existence between Hungarians and Islam has been considered balanced, until the spring of 2015 when a wave of migrants appeared in Europe. “Opening to the East”, the foreign policy announced by the government in 2011 heralded a new chapter of cooperation with Arabic/Muslim countries, predominantly due to economic considerations. The migrant crisis turned government communication, as well as the stance of Jobbik, the largest opposition party, upside down. This paper discusses the unique phenomenon of what role the political debate about Islam and the construction of the temporary border barrier protecting the Hungarian national borders played in the competitive communication of the national-radical, pro-Muslim opposition Jobbik party (achieving a lead in the polls) and the centre-right governing parties Fidesz-kdnp which typically emphasise their Christian character.

The Hungarian Border Barrier and Islam

in Journal of Muslims in Europe

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References

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4

Between April and June 2016Hungary enacted legislation that had a crucial detrimental impact on asylum seekers and refugees (migrants). Hungarian legal acts on migration (2016) in Hungarian and in English. Hungarian: http://net.jogtar.hu/jr/gen/hjegy_doc.cgi?docid=A1600039.TV×hift=20160601&txtreferer=00000001.txt. English: http://www.helsinki.hu/wp-content/uploads/HHC-Hungary-asylum-legal-amendments-Apr-June-2016.pdf and http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/sites/www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/files/aldfiles/Fact%20sheet%20-%20Case%20law%20on%20Hungary_FIN.pdf.

17

In 1552the Turks unsuccessfully besieged the fortress of Eger which was protected by István Dobó and his men. This theme was reworked into a novel by Géza Gárdonyi (1899) and a popular adventure film was also made with the same title (1969). Egri csillagok is compulsory reading for Hungarian schoolchildren. It depicts Turks (Muslims) rather negatively.

18

In October 2016the Arabs (Muslims) were the most rejected group: 58% of respondents considered themselves xenophobic which is an enormous increase over the 40-45% measured in 2015.

19

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918many Bosnian soldiers and civilians remained in post-Trianon Hungary. The most famous and acclaimed of them was the aforementioned Muslim religious leader Hilmi Husszein Durics who in 1920 moved from Vienna in 1920 to Hungary where—according to his own report—he joined Pál Prónay’s paramilitary unit the so-called “Ragged Guards” (Rongyos Gárda) with 85 companions. Bosniak Albanian and Turkish Muslim volunteers are known to have participated in their uprising of the Lajtabánság (Banat of Leitha) region of Western Hungary in 1921. The Turkish Bosnian and Albanian fighters are mentioned in several contemporary sources and the memoir of one of the commanders of the troops (Viktor Maderspach) describes how well known their units were Justas well as the names places of birth ranks and civil occupations of some of them. Some of them were traders operating near the Nyugati railway terminal in Budapest others were soldiers originally from southern Hungary who had defected. There are no exact data available on their precise numbers but various sources indicate estimates of 100-150. The (partially Muslim) outnumbered insurgents attacked an Austrian unit of 500 gendarmes who were awaiting the take-over of Sopron near Ágfalva on 29 August 1921 and expelled them from the area.

21

From 2010 to 2014the Foreign Ministry mostly referred to “global opening” because in their system Eastern European and Middle Eastern/Asian openings were implemented simultaneously with the opening to Africa and Latin America. This system included the important element of repositioning the status of Hungary in international organisations especially the un in order to make the voice of Budapest heard on global issues.

Figures

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    Polling data on political party support in March and November 2015.

    source: medián

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