Viktor Orban, Hungarian prime minister and head of the national conservative Fidesz party, called Muslim refugees "invaders" and called Holocaust survivor George Soros a "statesman without a state" during an interview with German newspaper Bild on Tuesday.
Soros was born in Nazi-occupied Budapest in 1930 and survived the Siege of Budapest in 1945.
A July billboard campaign against foreign influence in the country used the image of Soros with the words "Let’s not leave Soros the last laugh." Some of the posters were glued to the floors of trains, intending on people stepping on his face. The campaign was widely seen as antisemitic.
The prime minister has long faced criticisms of antisemitism, beginning with the Soros campaign. He was also criticized for calling Miklós Horthy, an ally of Adolf Hitler, one of Hungary's "exceptional statesmen." Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1920, 1938 and 1939.
Orban also criticized Soros as a 'casino capitalist' who supports migrants and illegal immigration.
"Mr. Soros is also running a campaign against the Hungarian government, and in that, he is not restricted by anything. This is an open discussion that proves the freedom of the press. Mr. Soros – who has made his money with casino capitalism – considers himself as a statesman without a state. With his money, he supports 60 non-government organizations that support migrants and illegal immigration. This is not about the freedom expression, but national security. At this point, I have to become active."
In the same interview, Orban sharply defended his country's long-standing fight against the European Union's request to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees, claiming it would create "parallel societies."
"We do not consider these people to be Muslim refugees. We consider them to be Muslim invaders. For instance, somebody who wants to come from Syria to Hungary must cross four countries that are not as rich as Germany, but stable. So they are not running for their lives there. They are economic migrants who are looking for a better life."
One major route of refugees to Europe passes through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia before reaching Hungary.
"Multiculturalism is an illusion. We do not want that. And we don’t want something forced upon us," he said.
His attack on the idea of migration to Hungary continued with a defense of the "will of the people."
"I can only speak for the Hungarian people, and it doesn’t want migration. It’s impossible, in my understanding, that there is a will of the people on a very fundamental issue, and the leadership of the country rejects to follow the public will. We are talking about sovereignty and the cultural identity of the country here. We have to keep the right to decide who can stay in the territory of Hungary."