- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2016

A member of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party is facing backlash after he suggested the country’s southern border fence should be lined with pigs’ heads to deter Muslim refugees.

MEP Gyorgy Schopflin made the comment during a Twitter spat with Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director for Human Rights Watch, after he publicly criticized Hungarians for using homemade scarecrows to frighten refugees along the border of neighboring Serbia.

“Refugees are fleeing war and torture, Hungary,” Mr. Stroehlein tweeted. “Your root vegetable heads will not deter them.”

Mr. Schopflin responded to Mr. Stroehlein on Saturday, writing: “Might do so. Human images are haram,” referring to forbidden acts under Islam, Reuters reported. “But agree, pig’s head would deter more effectively.”

Mr. Stroehlein accused the MEP of spouting “xenophobic filth.”

“You are an embarrassment to Hungary, to Europe and to humanity,” he wrote.

Mr. Schopflin, a former BBC employee and London-based professor, later told Reuters that the pig-head idea was “a thought experiment” and not a formal proposal. He also said he has no plans to apologize for the remark.

“It’s anthropologically intriguing how sensitive the topos is,” he said.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr. Stroehlein said the remark about the pigs’ heads was “grossly offensive.”

“It is a very strange and bizarre thing to come out of the mouth of an MEP, especially one who was once a respected historian. It’s as if he thinks pork is some sort of kryptonite against Muslims,” he said. “To judge by the rhetoric from some Hungarian politicians, you would think this was the 16th century, with Ottoman armies invading. Their whole approach has been to demonize people who are trying to escape war and torture.”

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