"Let’s not join the governing party in its hostility to foreigners and in its racism"

January 19, 2015

Speech delivered by “Teresa” a German student living in Hungary for 16 months at this evening’s “Hungary is for everybody, not just Viktor Orbán” demonstration in support of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers:

First, I would like to thank everybody who came today to support us and stand for an inclusive Hungary. My name is Theresa and I have been living in Hungary for 16 months. I am here today to stand up for the rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants.

Everyday immigrants risk their lives to come here to search refuge, to search for a new and better life. When I arrived to Hungary – and in contrast to many others, I chose to come here voluntarily – I felt welcomed. I quickly found friends, allies, people who supported me in learning Hungarian, in settling in, in feeling at home in this country.

Let’s extend this welcome to those immigrants, who come here, fleeing their old lives. Let’s not join the governing party in its hostility against foreigners and in its racism.

Viktor Orbán says, the Hungarian standpoint is to stop immigration – in my experience, this is not true. The Hungarian standpoint, the human standpoint, is to welcome people who are in need of our help.

Each and every human being is an individual with their own values, talents and treasures. People from different countries bring new knowledge, new skills, new expertise with them. Thus these people do not take away. They add to the country’s riches and prosperity!

I love living in Hungary – but what would Hungary be without things from abroad? Without the foreign words we use in Hungarian, the foreign food we eat, the foreign wine we drink – even if just to remember that Hungarian wine is better.

Immigration is not a threat – it enriches our lives and makes us stronger.

Szént István / Saint Stephen is often named as the founder of Hungary. He said: “A country with only one language and one tradition is weak and vulnerable”

Hungarians, most of all, know that searching refugee is not an easy decision:

Let us not forget that Kossuth was a refugee too leaving his country because of war and poverty. What about Ignác Semmelweis, the saviour of mothers. Today, would he also be classified as an economic immigrant?! What about the thousands of refugees in 1956, after the Hungarian revolution was crushed? This list could go on and on…

Orban’s comments about immigration disrespect European and democratic values – Fidesz officials have repeatedly stated, they want to make European immigration policy tougher.

Orban’y comments run against basic general knowledge about migration – foreigners make up less than 2% of the Hungarian population.

Orban’s comments are in contrast to fundamental moral values – they ignore the right to seek refuge from war and misery.Using immigrants as a scapegoat is a part of the ‘illiberal democracy’ Orban wants to build in this country: People are classified and treated differently, depending on their class, race, gender. Minorities of all kind are seen as an obstacle. Treating immigrants as a threat is part of a politics that makes us afraid of each other, rather than work together. This does not only affect immigrants – this affects everyone in Hungary that is in need of assistance or is being subjected to prejudice: homeless people, poor people, Roma – this list could go on.

In the Hungary that we, MigSzol and everyone here, fight for, it does not matter where we are from. It does not matter what language we speak. We are all equal and shall be treated equally. We work together, in a democratic and inclusive society. We work together because we can learn from each other. And we work together to make the lives of all of us better.

Each and every one of us is a human being and as such has basic human rights. Freedom of movement is such a human right; the right to choose a place of residence and the right to seek asylum. They have to be respected. Refugees should be treated equally just like Hungarians and Romanians when they go to Western Europe, or French and Germans when they come here.

Without immigration the world would be a boring, static and much-much poorer place! The History of mankind is about the meeting of different peoples, cultures and religions! We wish that Hungary, a country that can be proud of being the first in Europe to enact religious freedom,  stays as diverse and hospitable as it has been for centuries. Proving to the world that here, in the heart of Europe, many different people are still able to share their lives, their traditions and live together in peace. Just like they have done in the past.