27 November 2019, The Tablet

Mr Orban’s political opponents would no doubt give all this a resounding raspberry


Mr Orban’s political opponents would no doubt give all this a resounding raspberry
 

Right now, I’m in Budapest, where the Hungarian government’s conference on the persecution of Christians – its second – has had a springboard start with the address by the prime minister, Viktor Orban. I’ve never heard anything like it. Mr Orban is, to put it mildly, controversial; to put it another way, he will never be on The Guardian’s Seasons Greetings card list. But he made clear that Christianity was, for him, the fons et origo of what Hungary is about.

Why Hungary does what it does was the theme of his speech – and Hungary Helps, the government’s overseas aid programme, specifically addresses the problems of Christian communities in the Middle East and Africa, but also victims of the Yazidi genocide and other groups. He observed (and I’m relying on a translation here) that the Magyars were not indigenous to this area; cultural foreigners, their language and ethnicity were different from every other. But to the question why did Hungary not disappear he gave the answer: Christianity. The key moment in Hungarian history was its conversion to the Christian faith.

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