Editorial: Refugees are victims, not a threat


LaMography / Moni Lazar

The following is the Editorial from the November 27 biweekly edition of the Budapest Business Journal.

Fleeing violence: Refugees at Keleti train station earlier this year. (Photo LaMography/Moni Lazar)

The reactions of fear and suspicion after the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris are understandable – and they are also just what the terrorists want. The reactions from our prime minister have been predictable, and while innocent deaths are obviously not what he wanted, it does seem to play nicely into his narrative. In fact, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has shown little shame about trying to make political hay out of the tragedy in Paris.

Investigations indicate that the terrorists in the Paris attack were not refugees, which makes sense: Refugees are fleeing the violence in Syria, while ISIS is helping to cause it. ISIS has made it clear that they do not like refugees and they do not think people should flee Syria. They think Syrians should stay and fight – on their side. As for those who will not join ISIS, the group has proven eager to enslave, torture, rape and murder them.

Some have expressed the fear that members of ISIS would enter Europe or the United States by posing as refugees, but the refugee trail is long and arduous, with the potential for screening at every border. Unfortunately, ISIS has a network of cooperative members already living in the West. These people can come and go from Europe by getting on a commercial airliner, and only passing through a single passport check. In fact it was such residents of Europe who are blamed in the Paris attacks.

Many of those who would demonize the refugees as potential terrorists are simply mistaken, but in the case of our prime minister, it appears to be cynical posturing. He has been ratcheting up his anti-immigrant rhetoric and acting as if the attacks in Paris proved that his intolerance toward refugees was prescient instead of cruel. Playing on people’s fears rather than seeking to address the real causes of our problems is a classic tactic for demagogues like our prime minister. He has seen his popularity rise in the polls due to his fear mongering and he seems likely to play this one note for as long as anyone will listen – though the issue has relatively little to do with Hungary. Even before Hungary diverted the flow of refugees to other countries, almost all of the asylum seekers entering our borders were just passing through on their way to the West. A more relevant concern is the economic migration out of Hungary, as the number of people leaving for greener pastures has always been greater than the number of refugees entering the country.

It is a shame that our leader is ignoring the many true problems that his country has, but we should not be blinded by his hateful bluster. If we are going to defeat the real enemy, it is important to know who they are. When we lump refugees together with terrorists, and let fear encourage broad hatred, we are doing exactly what the terrorists want.

We need to rise above the fear that the terrorists seek to sow, and that our prime minister seems eager to encourage. We need to fight the real enemy, the terrorists, instead of blaming the victims, the refugees.

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