Thursday , 19 October 2017

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Hungarian Muslim group criticises town’s ‘xenophobic’ decrees

Hungarian Islamic Community attacks ban on mosques, muezzins and clothes such as niqab and burkini by mayor of Ásotthalom

One of Hungary’s main Muslim organisations has decried what it said are “xenophobic” steps taken by an ultra-nationalist local mayor.

The town of Ásotthalom on the Serbian border last week banned mosque construction, the use of a muezzin at prayer times and the wearing of clothes such as the niqab and the burkini.

In a statement, the Hungarian Islamic Community (MIK) said it was “shocked by the increasing xenophobia and serious Islamophobia in Hungary, which has now peaked with the decree”.

The town’s mayor, László Toroczkai, said the steps were taken to “protect the community and its traditions from any mass settlement from outside”. Toroczkai, who is also a vice-president of the far right Jobbik party, came to prominence in 2015 when he filmed an action movie-style video at a fence on the Serbian border warning migrants not to enter Hungary. Ásotthalom has few refugees.
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MIK, set up in 1990, is the oldest group representing Hungary’s Muslim community and is estimated to have 40,000 members. “We have requested in writing that the constitutional court examine this decree,” its statement said.

“Although we are a religious minority, our constitutional rights must be protected as we are Hungarian citizens just the same as the non-Muslim majority. We cannot ‘go home’ anywhere as this is our homeland.”