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Hungary mimics Trump, repeats message that London and other European cities are ‘no-go zones’

Hungary's right-wing government is intensifying its anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of an Oct. 2 referendum on whether to accept a quota of refugees mandated by the European Union. The government, including hard-line Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is vehemently opposed to the proposal and has been outspoken about the supposed threat posed by Muslim arrivals in Europe.

In a new pamphlet distributed to millions of Hungarian voters, the government warned that immigrant communities had turned major cities across Europe into "no-go zones," a line once used on the other side of the Atlantic by Donald Trump and by others fearful of Islam. Trump was widely mocked for his comments last year; the London police, in an arch statement, offered to give him a personal briefing.

Boris Johnson, who was London's mayor at the time and is now Britain's foreign secretary, scolded Trump.

"As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalization is simply ridiculous," Johnson said in December.

Nevertheless, the Hungarian government, which conflates the specter of militant Islamists with a larger debate over multiculturalism, seems undeterred.

"The so-called 'no-go' zones are areas of cities that the authorities are unable to keep under their control," the pamphlet states. "Here the recipient society's written or unwritten norms do not apply. In those European cities, where immigrants live in great numbers, several hundred 'no-go' zones exist."

The talking point is not new, even for the Hungarians. In March, the government launched a website where it first mentioned the supposed existence of 900 “no-go areas” across the continent, including towns and neighborhoods within major capitals, among them London and Berlin. The project was headlined by a banner that said, "Refugees are not welcome here."

The Hungarian position has irked others in Europe; earlier this month, the foreign minister of Luxembourg suggested that Hungary be thrown out of the European Union for the measures it has taken to thwart refugees.

Grilled by a bemused and increasingly irritated Evan Davis, the BBC "Newsnight" presenter, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto defended his government's position on Tuesday night.

"We based this information on open, official reports given by the police of the respective countries and from the news," he said. "There are no-go zones in Europe, and we don't want no-go zones in Hungary."

The Huffington Post transcribed part of the testy exchange that followed:

The Newsnight interviewer pressed: “You still believe there are no-go areas in London where you can't go because the migrants have taken over?
Davis added: "This is ridiculous, you can use your eyes, it's just ridiculous."
“Did you talk to the British government before you published this about the UK? It’s a slur on the UK. By the way, an inaccurate slur on the UK, did you talk to the British government? Or even your embassy in London?”
The leaflet, Davis said, was “false and defamatory of a nation”.
Szijjártó said “of course” he used his eyes. “I usually do,” he said. And admitted the UK ambassador to Hungary had also complained about the leaflet.

As WorldViews has tracked over the past year, Hungary is hardly alone in its controversial — and, some would say, bigoted — stance. In Central and Eastern Europe, a host of right-wing, populist governments have grandstanded on the refugee influx, scaremongering about the supposed end of their societies and way of life even though Muslim arrivals would number a minuscule proportion of the population.

"If we let the Muslims into the continent to compete with us, they will outnumber us," Orban said last year. "It’s mathematics.”

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