Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used language that some critics have said has anti-Semitic undertones at a rally three weeks before he seeks re-election for a third term.
Speaking Thursday in Budapest, Orban harshly criticized proponents of immigration. He also called out George Soros, the Hungary-born Jewish financier and philanthropist, and those who support his “open society” ideals.
“We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world,” Orban said, according to the Guardian’s Shaun Walker.
Orban referred to Soros as “Uncle George” and compared him to Hungary’s historical foes, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Hapsburgs and the Soviet Union. He emphasized that Hungary and the rest of Western Europe is experiencing an invasion of immigrants that will turn native-born Europeans into a minority.
Orban told around 100,000 supporters gathered in Budapest that Hungary’s “way of life will lose its meaning” if his opponents win the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Orban told the rally, a show of strength ahead of the April 8 vote, that he was the defender of “millions with national feeling” against the “globalist elite”.
“Large western European countries bit by bit are losing their own countries, they want to force us to do the same,” he told the crowd.
“Africa wants to kick down our door, and Brussels is not defending us.”
He added: “We will take moral, legal and political revenge after the elections” on opponents, in what some opposition politicians have interpreted as a threat.
Another 10,000 people gathered for a counter-demonstration, according to an estimate by an AFP journalist at the scene.
Soros’ Open Society Foundations says it has spent over $400 million in Hungary since 1984 promoting “independent journalism, fighting corruption, supporting civic participation, and combating discrimination.” Orban has objected to the organization’s calls for greater tolerance of refugees and migrants.
Orban and far-right activists have attacked Soros for well over a year, waging a campaign that has involved billboards and other advertisements. Some Hungarian Jews, in addition to Soros himself, find the campaign anti-Semitic.