06 Apr 2018

Hungarian government's racist rhetoric hits Nigeria

Relations between Nigeria and Hungary hit a new low after a speaker at a Fidesz party campaign event said 80 percent of Nigerians had AIDS.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Hungarian government's racist rhetoric hits Nigeria - NewsMavens
Nigerians. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Racism and anti-migration rhetoric has been an essential part of the government’s election campaign. But a speech at a recent event by Hungary's ruling party has damaged international relations with one of the largest nations in Africa.

The outright racism in the remarks by Civilian Union Forum spokesman Zoltán Lomnici Jr. is not the only troubling part of the story. What may be even worse is how easily and naturally he lied.

He's not the only official to lie and spout racist claims this campaign. The last few months have been extraordinary, in no small part because of the prevalence of the ruling party's lies, propaganda and fake news.

It serves as proof that Hungary couldn't escape the post-truth era. Leading politicians have followed the tricks that have been successful for others, such as Donald Trump.

Looking at this campaign, we see that facts don't matter anymore: the point is to play with the emotions of and trigger a gut response from loyal voters.

illiberalism,politics,race,scandal

Details from the story:

  • Zoltan Lomnici Jr., the spokessman of the Civilian Union Forum (COM), which is a pro-government movement, spoke at a campaign event for the ruling Fidesz party in Hungary.
  • Lomnici made several absurd and offensive remarks, stating that African immigrants could infect Hungarians with AIDS and other exotic diseases. He also said that four out five Swedish women who were raped by migrants contracted HIV.
  • The embassy of Nigeria in Budapest released a statement in which its ambassador, Dr. Eniola Ajayi, voiced her astonishment and demanded Lomnici retract his statements.
  • Ajayi has informed the Hungarian government that according to a 2016 report by WHO, 1.7 per cent of Nigerians are living with HIV.
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