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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– A Christian rights group involved in rescuing persecuted Christians in troubled regions has condemned Hungarian government plans to keep asylum seekers in shipping containers. The reaction came after Hungary’s hardline Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defended his migration policies and a crackdown on rights groups.
Orbán lashed out especially against U.S. billionaire financier George Soros, who was born in Hungary. The prime minister told supporters in Budapest that Soros and groups backed by him want to influence Hungary’s politics and encourage the arrival of hundreds of thousands of more migrants in the country and the rest of Europe.
Orbán, who seeks re-election in 2018, used his annual ‘state of the nation’ speech last Friday to express his strong opposition to more immigration and refugees.
Known for his nationalistic rhetoric, Orbán in 2015 ordered fences built on Hungary’s southern borders with Serbia and Croatia to halt the influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty.
Orbán defended his rightwing government’s crackdown on “foreign-funded” rights groups, including those supported by Soros, because they have questioned these policies. “There are some large-bodied predators swimming here in the waters. This is the trans-border empire of George Soros, with tons of money and international heavy artillery,” he said.
The Soros organization has denied wrongdoing saying it supports democracy and open societies around the world. Orbán, who ironically as a young man received a Soros-funded scholarship, also reiterated a government plan to keep asylum seekers in border camps built from shipping containers while their applications are being processed.
His remarks were condemned by the Farrukh Saif Foundation, which is involved in rescuing Christians facing persecution in several countries. It was one of more than a dozen groups attending a recent government-backed conference in Budapest on the plight of persecuted Christians.
Farrukh Saif, the founder and president of the group, told BosNewsLife that Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán and his government seem to forget the Christian roots of Hungary, a heavily Catholic nation. “They are putting the people into the containers, right? Human lives in the containers? Is he insane?,” he wondered.
Similar containers have been used in countries such as Eritrea to detain Christians, BosNewsLife reported earlier. “How can you put people, humans, who God has created in His own image into this shell and place which is totally covered and where is no freedom? And you want to use this for refugees and asylum seekers? Jesus Christ Himself was a refugee,” Saif added.
Another organization, Rescue Christians, has also urged Hungary to open its doors for Christian refugees. The government has set up an office to support persecuted Christians.
But it has made clear it prefers to focus on helping them on the spot or in nearby countries, rather than taking them in.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, one of the country’s leading rights groups, says it will will sue Hungary at the European Court of Justice in every case where asylum-seekers in its words illegally kept in custody. That would likely force the Hungarian government to make compensation payments.
“The government would do better instead to improve the quality of the open reception centers and spend this money on the integration of people who have found asylum in Hungary,” it said.