PM Johnson challenges Orban's 'divisive and wrong' views on Muslims in London talks

Orban has been criticised for using the term "Muslim invaders"
Orban has been criticised for using the term "Muslim invaders" Copyright Tamas Kovacs/AP
Copyright Tamas Kovacs/AP
By Philip Andrew Churm
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Orban spoke of “Muslim invaders” and of migrants being “a poison”. Critics point out that Boris Johnson is no stranger to making disparaging comments about Muslims.


Britain's government has condemned comments made by Viktor Orban about Muslims and migrants on the eve of a bilateral meeting between the Hungarian leader and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In a statement, No. 10 Downing Street said that Orban’s 2018 comment to a German newspaper about "Muslim invaders" and his later description of migrants as "a poison" were “divisive and wrong”.

It said that Johnson would not shy away from raising human rights issues with the Hungarian leader.

The comments came ahead the meeting in London, Friday, between the two leaders as Hungary is set to take the presidency, later this year, of the so-called Visegrad group of Central European nations.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party said Orban’s visit undermined the values the UK government claims to defend.

Earlier, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, questioned on Twitter whether Johnson would "challenge the Hungarian PM on his appalling track record."

Britain's Labour Party has criticised Orban's visit

After the meeting, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The leaders discussed the importance of the UK and Hungary working together bilaterally to increase security and prosperity in our countries and to address global challenges such as climate change.

“Hungary will take on the presidency of the Visegrád Group of Central European nations in July and the Prime Minister looked forward to the UK working more closely with the group in future.

“The Prime Minister raised his significant concerns about human rights in Hungary, including gender equality, LGBT rights and media freedom.

“The leaders also discussed a number of foreign policy issues including Russia, Belarus and China. The Prime Minister encouraged Hungary to use their influence to promote democracy and stability.”

In 2020, Orban pressed the EU to lift sanctions on Belarus where, last week, a flight was diverted in order to enable the arrest of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega.

Orban, a Euro-sceptic and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also blocked the European Union from issuing statements criticising China for its actions in Hong Kong.

Johnson is no stranger to disparaging comments about Muslims either. In 2018, he compared women wearing the burqa to letterboxes. He has since "apologised for any offence caused."

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