By Anthony Faiola,
BERLIN — Call him Europe’s Donald Trump.
Hungary’s maverick Prime Minister Viktor Orban is emerging as the straight-talking voice of right-wing Europe, vowing to block a wave of desperate refugees from seeking sanctuary in the region. Continuing a string of blunt statements of a sort rarely heard from heads of state on this side of the Atlantic, he warned Friday that Europeans now stand to become “a minority in our own continent” if the floodgates are not immediately closed.
Trump dreams of building a wall to keep migrants out. But Orban, 52, has actually done it — erecting 109 miles of razor wire to stop them. Authorities in Hungary, a key transit nation for asylum-seekers aiming for generous European nations offering shelter including Germany and Sweden, have been preventing them from moving on and shuttling them to camps, in part to dissuade more from coming. Under international pressure Friday, Hungary agreed to bus some of the blockaded asylum-seekers to Austria. But it remained unclear whether the Austrians would accept them and what would happen to the thousands of refugees stuck in Hungarian camps.
[European railways become ground zero for the migrant crisis]
Orban’s political party, meanwhile, has slapped billboards up in the Art Nouveau streets of Budapest warning migrants — almost none of whom want to stay in Hungary — not to “take our jobs.” On Friday, Hungary’s parliament passed emergency anti-migration laws in response to the crisis, slapping on three-year jail terms for crossing the new fence and authorizing the army to help process migrants in registration camps. Calling the mostly Muslim refugees a threat to Europe’s “Christian roots,” Orban has given voice to the fears of other European conservatives too shy to say such things aloud themselves.
It is just another day for a man known by his critics as the Viktator — an authoritarian nationalist who has menaced his enemies and enraptured supporters with a polarizing panache. A right-wing firebrand who once tried to tax the Internet and whose government has launched a high-profile assault on nonprofit organizations, Orban, like Trump, has rarely shied away from a fight.
But he has picked this one, observers say, because it is a political no-brainer. As the number of asylum-seekers flocking through Hungary has grown, the country’s population has turned decidedly …Read More