The Constitutional Court of Hungary has overturned a ban on building mosques and Islamic headscarves in the village of Ásotthalom, two hours from the capital Budapest.

László Toroczkai, mayor of Ásotthalom, and vice president of the staunchly antisemitic far-right party Jobbik gained international notoriety following news of the ban. His ban also included a homophobic censure on the promotion of equal marriage.

Hungary’s commissioner for fundamental rights pushed for a constitutional challenge, and the court ruled that it aimed “to limit directly the freedom of conscience and religion, as well freedom of speech”.

The measures had been in place since November. And it sought came off the back of the refugee and migrant crisis affecting parts of Europe.

A BBC investigation also found links between Mr. Toroczkai and the British far-right. He told Victoria Derbyshire that: “He [Jim Dowson] came to Asotthalom a few times as a private individual, just to have a look. Nick Griffin also came with him.” This was confirmed in a post on Dowson’s Knights Templar International website.

On Mr. Torockzai’s official Facebook page, the antisemitism, homophobia, and anti-Muslim hatred are easy to find. On April 6, he posted in English, that: “The Visegrad Cooperation, which is built upon the unbreakable Hungarian-Polish friendship, will save Europe. All those who don’t believe in this should watch this video, in which Polish youngsters say no to the islamization of Europe. The Polish-Hungarian axis is as strong now as it used to be in the past centuries. It is indestructible.”

In previous homophobic statements, Mr. Toroczkai has ranted against the perceived ‘homosexual agenda’.

An antisemitic post crudely depicted the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and philanthropist George Soros as an octopus – evoking Nazi-era propaganda.

In a broader sense, however, this rhetoric is the bluster behind an egregious and illiberal clampdown on Soros-funded projects in parts of Eastern Europe.

Hungary has faced renewed criticism for a law that is said to target a major Budapest university. Tens of thousands took to the streets of Hungary’s capital to protest this proposed law. Nor does this obsession with Soros only sit within the extremes of Hungarian politics.

The Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the university a ‘fraud,’ adding that “in Hungary, one cannot be above the law — even if you’re a billionaire.” Supporters of the Prime Minister are increasingly convinced that Soros intends to change the fundamental religious identity of Hungary by ‘flooding’ it with Muslim refugees. In other parts of Eastern Europe, this anti-Soros posturing can be found in the rhetoric of the former authoritarian leader of Macedonia, and in the actions of the current Macedonian government.This extends to Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Serbia. Poland’s ruling party is considering legislation to clamp down on Soros-funded groups.

 

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