"Pope Francis’s message Sunday couldn’t have been clearer: With hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into Europe, Catholics across the continent had a moral duty to help by opening their churches, monasteries and homes as sanctuaries.
On Monday, the church’s spiritual leader for southern Hungary — scene of some of the heaviest migrant flows anywhere in Europe — had a message just as clear: His Holiness is wrong.
“They’re not refugees. This is an invasion,” said Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, whose dominion stretches across the southern reaches of this predominantly Catholic nation. “They come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over.”
The bishop’s stark language reflects a broader spiritual struggle in Europe over how to respond to a burgeoning flow of predominantly Muslim men, women and children onto a largely Christian continent.
The pope’s call for compassion and charity is competing with a view most prominently articulated by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has cast the flow of migrants as a direct challenge to Europe’s Christian character.
And in Hungary at least, it’s the prime minister’s view that seems to be winning out.
Even as Catholics in other parts of Europe heeded the pope’s plea for help Monday, there was little evidence here that church leaders were prepared to elevate what has so far been an anemic response to one of the worst humanitarian crises Europe has seen in decades.
And despite the heat that Orban has taken worldwide for attempts to crack down on some of the globe’s most vulnerable people by halting their journeys or throwing them into prison, his stance has seemed to only burnish his reputation here as a no-nonsense nationalist who will defend the country against an onslaught of “tens of millions” of new arrivals.
“I’m in total agreement with the prime minister,” Kiss-Rigo said in an interview Monday. The pope, by contrast, “doesn’t know the situation.”
The situation, as Kiss-Rigo describes it, is that Europe is being inundated by people who are posing as refugees but actually present a grave threat to the continent’s “Christian, universal values.”
Even though the majority of migrants who have crossed the border in southern Hungary are from Syria — where war has claimed more than 320,000 lives in the past four years — he judged them unworthy of assistance because most of them “have money.”
They leave rubbish in their wake, he said, and refuse when offered food.
“Most of them behave in a way that is very arrogant and cynical,” said Kiss-Rigo, who has been bishop for nine years in an area that is home to some 800,000 Catholics.
Aid workers on the border and at Budapest’s central train station — where hundreds of refugees awaited trains Monday to Western Europe — gave a different account. They described people desperate for assistance and grateful to receive it....
Balazs Odor-an official with the Reformed Church in Hungary, the country’s second-largest denomination-acknowledged that faith groups had been slow off the mark in responding to the crisis....
Odor said he rejected Orban’s view that Christianity in Europe is under assault but said the arrival in Europe of hundreds of thousands of Muslims had unquestionably “created anxiety. And that’s politically misused.”
Hungary is not a particularly religious country, with a half-century of communist rule having done much to curb the church’s influence and Sundays marked by the same thinly populated pews that dominate cathedrals across Europe.
But Orban’s attempts to position the country as a Christian bulwark against a Muslim onslaught strikes a deep chord in the national psyche, said Botond Feledy, a political analyst.
Hungary’s major national holiday still commemorates the country’s turn to Christianity, which dates back over a millennium. And nationalists often cite the country’s 17th-century defeat of its Ottoman occupiers as proof that Hungary is a critical European safeguard against malign influences to the east.
Orban has played the Christian card before, introducing a clause in the constitution that cites “the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood” and promoting religious education in the schools.
The tactic has worked for him, boosting his popularity.
But to Eva Varga, a 63-year-old doctor providing volunteer help to the migrants Monday, a refugee crisis is the wrong time to play religious politics.
“For me, there are no Christian patients and no non-Christian patients,” said Varga, who has provided medical help in countries around the world for the relief organization Hungarian Baptist Aid."...
Gergo Saling contributed to this report." via Pamela Geller
As Hungary talks tough on border security, refugees continue to pour in
Comment: Washington Post introduces "the Christian card," says it's a "tactic:"
"Orban has played the Christian card before....The tactic has worked for him, boosting his popularity."
Spengler: Europe is euphoric over refugees and fugitives, feeling as one would about adopting a stray puppy. "The Arab Gulf States accept very few Syrian refugees out of security concerns which are entirely legitimate."
"The refugee problem can’t be solved at Europe’s borders; it only can be solved before it happens, by stabilizing the situation on the ground. But that would mean containing Iran’s ambitions and crushing the Sunni jihadists at the same time."
9/7/15, "The price of Europe’s fecklessness," David P. Goldman, Asia Times
"This is going to end very, very badly.
The Europeans, to be sure, are a pack of cynical hypocrites. If they had cared about Syrians, they might have sent a couple of brigades of soldiers to fight ISIS. But not a single European will risk his neck to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. The last time European soldiers got close to real trouble, in Srebrenica in 1995, Dutch peacekeepers stood aside while Bosnian Serbs massacred 8,000 Muslims.
The horror has now piled up on Europe’s doorstep, thanks evidently to the skill of Turkish gangs who have turned the Turkey-to-Balkans smuggling route into a superhighway. Europe said and did nothing while the global refugee count exploded from 40 million in 2010 to 60 million in 2014, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees, but was shocked, shocked to find such people on its doorstep.
At this point the floodgates of European sympathy opened, and Germany declared that it would accept 800,000 fugitives, including many from the world’s most brutal war zones. From a security standpoint it is foolhardy in the extreme: 250,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war since 2011 because other people killed them, mostly with small arms or improvised explosives (such as the government’s notorious “barrel bombs”). Such killing is a labor-intensive affair, and requires the participation of many thousands of killers. It isn’t only that ISIS (and other jihadists) are able to smuggle to Europe as many of their operatives as they care to, as ISIS itself purportedly boasts. The refugee population itself is flush with killers from both sides fleeing the war. The presence of small children does not obviate this; killers have families, too.
The Arab Gulf States accept very few Syrian refugees out of security concerns which are entirely legitimate. Thousands of Syrian migrants fought either with the Assad regime (allied to Iran, the nemesis of the Sunni Gulf States) or ISIS and al-Qaeda (which want to overthrow the Saudi monarchy)....
The refugees have given the Germans the sort of frisson of good feeling that one gets from adopting a stray puppy. This one redemptive act, they seem to believe, compensates for the country’s criminal behavior during the middle of the past century. It is one thing to take in one stray, however, and quite another to find a pack of hungry dogs baying at one’s door. At that point one calls the dog-catcher.
Syria’s civil war was not an isolated occurrence: it was one of many fissures in an Islamic civilization which has ceased to function from the Indus River to the Meditarranean. There are 60 million refugees in the world, almost all of them within reach of Europe. Almost as many Afghan refugees have turned up on Europe’s borders as Syrians, and an increasing number of Iraqis have joined the horde. At some point the Pakistanis and Bengladeshis will hear about the bounty of the Europeans and join in as well.
The prospective size of the migrant stream to Europe, including economic migrants as well as war refugees from Africa, probably exceeds 100 million, or two orders of magnitude larger than the already very large number that Europe has agreed to accept.
Europe will have scenes of horror on its border: barbed wire, tear gas, rubber bullets, malnutrition and epidemic disease in tent camps swollen by millions of desperate people. It will also have acts of terrorism by refugees already inside its borders protesting Europe’s future refusal to accept more.
The immediate future in the Middle East does not point towards stability. The international recognition of Iran as a major regional power in the P5+1 nuclear deal will persuade the Sunni states to use whatever instruments are handy to contain Iranian power, including ISIS and assorted al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Iran’s $150 billion windfall under the nuclear deal will allow Tehran to increase its support for the Assad regime in Syria, for Hezbollah in Lebanon, for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and other Shi’ite elements that it has cultivated as cat’s paws. The Sunnis will respond in kind. Turkey, meanwhile, will redouble its efforts to crush the nascent Kurdish state emerging on its border in Iraq and Syria. Europe supported the P5+1 deal in part because it was the path of least resistance, and in part because it hoped to make money once the Iran sanctions were lifted. It will pay a big price for its sloth and cynicism.
The combination of sectarian and ethnic violence in a multi-player civil war will push even more desperate people towards Europe. And that does not taken into account the potential for instability among the 330 million people of Pakistan and Bengladesh, many of whom live under desperate circumstances already.
The refugee problem can’t be solved at Europe’s borders; it only can be solved before it happens, by stabilizing the situation on the ground. But that would mean containing Iran’s ambitions and crushing the Sunni jihadists at the same time. Blood would spill, and not all of it local. The Europeans don’t think the Middle East is “worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier,” as Bismarck said of the Balkans. They will pay for their fecklessness many times over."
Image caption: "Luis Bunuel’s lampoon of da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in “Viridiana” (1961)"