March 19, 2018 / 5:40 PM / 4 months ago

Hungary defends anti-immigration stance at U.N. rights body

(In March 19 story, corrects second paragraph to say .. U.N. Human Rights Committee ..not.. U.N. Committee on Civil and Political Rights)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Hungary defended its anti-immigration stance on Monday at the United Nations, saying it was determined to maintain a homogeneous, Christian society.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee, composed of independent experts, began a two-day review of Hungary’s record in upholding civil and political rights, less than three weeks before a parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a rally last Thursday that voters must fight “external forces and international powers” who wanted to foist mass immigration on their country.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the panel: “First and foremost, it is a firm conviction of the government that the Hungarian people have the right to live a life in security, without fear of terrorist atrocities.”

In 2015, Hungary had a “sad experience” when some 400,000 migrants passed through on their way to western Europe, “ignoring all rules”, he said.

Hungary responded with a border fence and rejection of European Union proposals to settle migrants in member states under a quota system. Most of the migrants were Muslims fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

“The Hungarian government has not admitted illegal migrants and will not admit them in future,” Szijjarto said.

“We Hungarians have lived the past 1,000 years in a Christian society, in an integrated, homogenous society; that is what we consider invaluable, and we continue to insist on this.”

He said non-governmental organisations that lobby for more tolerance of immigration were not elected and did not represent the Hungarian people.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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