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Orbán on Islam: ‘We are happy about kebab shops’

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sought to deflect criticism of his recent remark that Europe should remain a mostly Christian place, telling a gathering of diplomats today that he respects the Islamic population in Hungary but does not wish for that population to grow, according to index.hu. “Of course we are happy about the kebab shops on our boulevards,” Orbán reportedly added.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addressing diplomats today. (Photo: MTI/György Varga)

In his address to various embassy personnel in Budapest, Orbán appeared to have softened his previous opposition regarding a quota system for the number of refugees that each European Union country should take.

“The Hungarian point of view is not against the quota system. We are not opposed to speaking about quotas. It’s the timing that’s the issue. Until we can protect European borders, there’s no point in speaking about how many people we can let in,” the daily quoted the prime minister as saying.

Orbán also reportedly said that, once refugees reach a Turkish refugee camp, they should be considered safe, as they no longer need to “run for their lives”. The prime minister echoed government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács’ statement that there are no wars in Greece, Serbia and Hungary and as such there is “no need for them to go further”, index said.

The prime minister stressed that the refugee situation is difficult, and compared the plight of refuges to that of Roma, index.hu reported. Part of Hungarian history is that the country “lives with a few hundred thousand Roma,” Orbán reportedly said, adding: “Hungary is not asking that we distribute Roma throughout Europe.”

One of the reporters present questioned Orbán on how his views differ from that of the radical right Jobbik party. The prime minister was said to reply: “The government is not interested in the far right”. Orbán also reportedly noted that Jewish culture can be celebrated safely on the streets of Budapest, and pointed out Budapest’s Jewish Summer Festival.