Hungarian mayor seeks to ban Muslims and gay people from his village

László Toroczkai says he welcomes new residents who 'don't want to live in a multicultural society'

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The Independent Online

The mayor of a village in Hungary has said Muslims and gay people are not welcome, despite a need to fill houses in the area.

László Toroczkai, mayor of Asotthalom, a remote village of around 4,000 on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, said that while he would like to attract more inhabitants to the village, he did not want to attract Muslim or gay people — citing his desire to “preserve traditions”.

Mr Toroczkai, who was elected in 2013 and is also vice-president of Hungary’s far-right party Jobbiktold the BBC’s Victory Derbyshire show the village authorities wanted to welcome new Western European residents, claiming that the flow of refugees could lead to the "disappearance of Europe".

“We primarily welcome people from Western Europe, people who wouldn’t like to live in a multicultural society. We wouldn’t like to attract Muslim people in the village, even though we already have a few Muslim residents in Asotthalom," Mr Torockzai said.

“It’s very important for the village to preserve is traditions. Europe is small. It can’t take in billions of people from Africa and South Asia, where there’s a population boom. This would soon lead to the disappearance of Europe.

“We can see large numbers of Muslim communities in Western communities that haven’t been able to integrate, and we don’t want the same thing to happen here.”

When asked about recent laws he had put forward that discriminate against gay people, Mr Toroczkai said this was also part of the village's drive to “defend” traditions, saying: “We’re defending our own traditions. Assothalom has a by-law that bans homosexual propaganda. We adopted it a few weeks ago.”

It comes several weeks after the Asotthalom mayor, who has become renowned for expressing anti-refugee sentiment since the migration crisis gained momentum in 2015, announced a series of bans on Muslim traditions such as the call to prayer, the wearing of Islamic dress and the building of mosques in the village, as well as outlawing the “propogation of gay marriage” and public displays of affection by gay people.

The mayor first unveiled the plans to ban Muslim traditions as part of a “preventative action package” of laws last November, describing them as a "defence against the forced mass resettlement of migrants by Brussels". The Hungarian government is due to rule on the legality of Asotthalom’s by-laws later in February.

In another display of his strong anti-refugee rhetoric, Mr Toroczkai released a video in 2015 warning immigrants entering the town that they would be caught and imprisoned.

The video, which appeared to be a mash-up between a clichéd car advert and a low budget action film, showed dramatic police chase scenes on the Hungary-Serbia border, ending with the ominous warning: "If you are an illegal immigrant and you want to get to Germany... Hungry is a bad choice. Asotthalom is the worst."

The mayor's latest remarks come as Hungary’s government on Monday submitted proposals to the EU that all asylum seekers in the county be automatically detained for the entirety of their asylum claim. The government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, said anyone seeking asylum through the country would be kept in “shelters” for the entire period of their application.

Speaking at a briefing in London, Mr Kovács said: “No migrants – not even those who have already issued their request for asylum – will be able move freely until there is a primary legal decision whether they are entitled for political asylum, refugee status or anything else, so they are not entitled to move freely in the country.” 

Hungary has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its migration policy, including its decision to erect a fence on its Serbian border and its refusal to accept EU-wide asylum quotas. During 2015, the country saw nearly 10,000 refugees entering every day.

The country set up border fences with Serbia last year, and plans to employ between 6,000 to 8,000 border guards “to apprehend those coming through the fence”.