Residents of the Tolna county village of Őcsény in southwest Hungary held an emergency village assembly Monday evening. So many members of the roughly 2,000-person community attended that not everyone was able to fit into the community center. They had come together to discuss what they considered an imminent threat to their village: the arrival of several refugees, mostly women and children, for a few days of vacation.
The residents had gotten wind of the cooperation between a local guesthouse owner, Zoltán Fenyvesi, and the Migration Aid civil organization to bring four rounds of six or seven refugee children with adult chaperones to the village for a week of relaxation in the guesthouse and sightseeing tours in the region.
Upon hearing of the plan, residents convened the assembly, which Fenyvesi attended. The meeting was so hysterical and full of shouting, the guesthouse owner said, that he didn’t have the chance to speak.
Later that night, the tires on two of Fenyvesi’s vehicles were slashed.
“The people were so dismissive at the village assembly that the guesthouse owner and the civil organization couldn’t even say what their plans were,” said Őcsény mayor János Fülöp, who has since resigned. “They said things like, ‘These people are animals, they’re not even human. They’re terrorists, they’re going to blow things up and rape the children’.”
Hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the town
Of all the many problems facing countryside villages – “no medical care, the closure of the savings banks and the post offices, no firewood” – what everyone is talking about nowadays is migration, mayor Fülöp said.
“This was only about 30 people, mostly women and children, that would have come here,” he said. “They would only have been at the guesthouse at night, because in the daytime they wanted to bring them to monuments, and to Pécs and the surroundings.”
Fülöp, who resigned his 11-year post as mayor of Őcsény Wednesday night after a special meeting of the local council, insisted that “not every refugee is a criminal and Islamist fanatic. These people received the protection of the Hungarian state, they went through a serious inspection based on international treaties.”
Fülöp said he’d resigned because the village had become divided, and he didn’t want to contribute to furthering the tensions.
“I’ve been mayor here for 11 years, and in that time I remember peace and quiet. No one spat on or cursed each other. That’s finished now,” he said, adding that he thinks the hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the place.
Fenyvesi, the owner of the Csengettyűs guesthouse, agreed.
“I trusted that there would be a normal debate at the village assembly where I could convince the people, but I told them in vain that this was about children. There was no chance for a discussion,” Fenyvesi said.
“They’re not afraid, they’re horrified,” he told 444.hu of the residents. “They said they hate them! They really think that one migrant here will become six, six will become 12, and in the end they’ll take over all of Őcsény and all of Hungary.”
Őcsény residents told daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet that they didn’t believe the refugees would only stay for a few days. One woman said she’d heard they would be moved into vacant houses in the village, and was afraid they’d bring diseases. Another said she’d seen on television how the refugees behave: “They rape everyone.”
One local man on a bicycle approached a Magyar Nemzet journalist and insisted the residents shouldn’t interact with “political monkeys,” since every newspaper and television station works for George Soros. He considers Fenyvesi, the guesthouse owner, a “Soros agent” as well, he said.
A petition is reportedly being circulated in Őcsény which aims to ban migrants from the community indefinitely.
If the shepherds had not been from Bethlehem, but from Őcsény…
According to its website, Migration Aid is “a volunteer civil initiative providing live-saving emergency assistance for asylum-seekers who need it.” The organization recently ran into similar local opposition when it arranged to provide accommodation for refugees in a town near Lake Balaton. At that time, Fidesz politicians and government media insisted the organization was “settling” illegal migrants in Hungarian villages as part of the government-contrived, much-touted “Soros Plan.”
Fenyvesi responded to a Migration Aid ad seeking volunteers to provide vacation accommodation for refugees who have received the official protection of the Hungarian state. He offered his 9-bed guesthouse to the organization free of charge.
It’s not the first time Fenyvesi has used his guesthouse to accommodate disadvantaged people. He said he has often taken in “people in difficult social situations” to stay there for free.
“If I can accommodate poor Hungarian children, and among them very many Gypsy children, I would add, then why not suffering refugee families with children?” he asked. “I’d be really curious that if the shepherds had not been from Bethlehem but from Őcsény, then would Jesus lay down among the cattle to rest in the manger, or somewhere outside like a homeless person?”
But Fenyvesi’s goodwill was met with hostility in Őcsény: after the village assembly, he was threatened and his property was damaged.
“They literally threatened me, that they would separate my head from my body!” he told 444.hu. “In the night there was a huge bang, a brick was thrown at my van. We saw in the morning that six of my eight tires had been slashed. I ask you, if someone is banging someone’s car mercilessly in front of their house in the night, and they’d threatened them before…then will he feel terrorized or not? I wonder, is that terror or not?”
Fenyvesi has decided not to host the refugee children, “not because they terrified me or anything like that, but because I saw those mothers and how shocked and horrified they are and how much they hate, and a mother’s love for her children is above everything.”
He said he doesn’t blame the residents for what has happened, but government propaganda which has incited so many Hungarians to hate.
“And those who threaten me, I’m not mad at them,” he said. “Nor at the tire slashers. Because they’re actually really good folks. They go wild over certain topics and become unpredictable. I think I’m going to discuss it with them, we go to the same bar. Either we’ll come to an understanding or I’ll get life insurance and that’s it. You don’t have to live forever.”