28 Feb 2018

Refugees create a choir to counter hate propaganda

A group of refugees living in Hungary has created a choir to offer an alternative version to the government's negative depictions, thus taking an important step towards self-representation.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava Online
Refugees create a choir to counter hate propaganda - NewsMavens
Westminster Choir singing Verdi. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

"Tavaszi szél vízet áraszt” is one of Hungary's most popular folk songs. When the legendary rock band Queen performed in Budapest in 1986, Freddie Mercury chose to sing the song to the thousands of Hungarian fans. The song therefore seemed like an appropriate debut for the Hungarian refugee choir's debut concert.

As the general elections approach, the Fidesz-led government has stepped up its anti-migration rhetoric. Some choir members say they feel the effects of the government's hate propaganda in their everyday lives, hence the impetus to show Hungarians that refugees are able to integrate in meaningful ways.

The choir allows "average citizens to see something different than the hateful propaganda,” says Agnes Szekely, co-ordinator for the integration of refugees at the Hungarian Reformed Church. 

The fact that a group of refugees had to take matters into their hands and try to communicate their humanity with Hungarians through song is both saddening and encouraging. One can only hope that their voices will be heard -- literally and figuratively.

politics,illiberalism,migration,human rightscommunity

Details from the story:

  • At least 11 nations are represented in the Hungarian Refugee Open Choir.
  • Participants not only learned Hungarian folk songs but also introduced traditional songs from Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other countries.
  • The founder of the Hungarian refugee choir is a Nigerian man, Frederick Odorige.
  • Odorize said he can "see and feel” the anti-migration propaganda, but that no one should worry about their problems while singing.
  • Agnes Szekely, co-ordinator for the integration of refugees at the Hungarian Reformed Church and a member of an NGO called Kalunba, helped Odorige establish the choir.
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