Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán has been denounced by Bosnian officials and religious leaders after he claimed integrating the country into the European Union would be a challenge because of its Muslim population.
Orbán was giving a speech in Budapest on Tuesday, lines of which were tweeted out in English by his spokesperson.
Hungary’s prime Minister thinks Bosnians are ‘challenging for the EU’
Orbán said during his speech, that Hungary supports Bosnia’s (a token statement) effort to join the EU, but added that “how we manage the security of a state in which 2 million Muslims live is a key issue for their security too,” referring to other EU states.
This is the first time a leader of the country has referred to Muslims as being a problem for the EU. A commentator from Germany remarked ‘that this is something that you only usually hear by Israeli leaders when referring to the Muslims in Palestine’.
Xenophobic and racist – Bosnia’s Muslims
When asked about Bosnia’s bid to join the EU, his spokesman Zoltán Kovács tweeted the PM’s response: “The challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims.”
Bosnia’s Muslims responded by calling for Orbán’s official visit to Sarajevo to be cancelled, with the head of the country’s Islamic Community, grand mufti Husein Kavazović, calling his statement “xenophobic and racist”.
“If such ideologies become the basis on which the policies of a united Europe are based, then it takes us back to the times when European unity was to be built on similar fascist, Nazi, violent and genocidal ideologies that led to the Holocaust and other horrific crimes,” he said in a statement.
The Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite presidency, Šefik Džaferović, called Orbán’s statement “shameful and rude”.