BUDAPEST (AFP) – Hungary stepped up its anti-migrant rhetoric on Wednesday with a new media offensive against refugees, ahead of a vote in October on troubled EU plans to relocate asylum-seekers among member states.
Run under the slogan “Did you know?”, the right-wing government unveiled a series of ads on its website blaming recent terrorist attacks in Europe on the refugee crisis, which has been rattling the bloc since 2015.
“The Paris attacks were committed by migrants,” reads one slogan in reference to last November’s coordinated assaults that left 130 people dead in the French capital.
Among the perpetrators were two men who had entered Europe among the flow of Syrians and Iraqis arriving on Greek shores last summer.
Other messages warn that “violence against women has increased exponentially since the start of the migrant wave” and that “in Libya alone, a million migrants wait to come to Europe”.
The ads will be published in the print press, broadcast on TV and radio, and plastered on billboards all over Hungary in the coming weeks, the government said.
The opposition news website 444.hu slammed the campaign for “solely aiming to spread unlimited xenophobia across the country”.
Earlier this month, the government announced it would hold a national vote on the EU’s controversial plan to share 160,000 migrants around the 28-nation bloc via mandatory quotas.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a fierce opponent of the proposal, saying it violated national sovereignty and that the EU had no right to “redraw Europe’s cultural and religious identity”.
Hungary has joined Slovakia in filing a legal challenge against the plan, which was meant to ease pressure on Greece and Italy, the main entry points into the bloc for migrants fleeing the Syrian civil war.
Around 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 before the government sealed off the southern borders with razor wire and fences in the autumn.
The authorities also brought in tough new laws punishing illegal entry and vandalism of the fences. Last year the government erected billboards warning foreigners not to take jobs from Hungarians.