During the centuries of struggle between European Christianity and Islam, various countries were referred to as “Antemurale Christianitatis,” the bulwark of Christendom. Today, with the torrent of mostly Islamic “migrants” heading toward Europe only increasing, that title belongs to Hungary.
Hungary was roundly condemned in the international press for seeking to enforce EU rules, which require that those seeking asylum register in the first EU state they reach. But the migrants didn’t want to stay in Hungary, even to register for asylum. They wanted to reach far wealthier Germany, which has said it will take up to 500,000 refugees each year for the foreseeable future. Some of the migrants began fighting with Hungarian police, and the Germans and Austrians told the Hungarians to waive the asylum rules and to send the migrants on, which the Hungarians did. But Hungary knows that acting in this way will only encourage more people to undertake the sometimes hazardous journey to Europe. So Hungary is completing a border fence along its southern border with Serbia and creating zones along the border where those seeking to register for asylum may do so. But, after September 15, those who enter Hungary illegally will be subject to imprisonment or expulsion.
These common sense actions are matched by common sense statements by Hungary’s leaders. A Reuters piece quotes Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban as saying, “It’s not 150,000 (migrants coming) that some (in the EU) want to divide according to quotas, it’s not 500,000, a figure that I heard in Brussels, it’s millions, tens of millions, because the supply of immigrants is endless.” And the blame for what is happening now rests on those who encouraged the migrants to come, according to Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto: “What happened is the consequence of the failed migration policy of the European Union and the irresponsible statements made by European politicians.” Moreover, although many of the migrants originate in Syria or other lands devastated by war, the migrants aren’t coming from those lands, but from lands lying between Hungary and Syria, as Orban has said: “People arriving from a refugee camp in Turkey, or coming via Serbia, Macedonia, or Greece, are not running for their lives.” Moreover, the assertiveness shown by the migrants in Hungary and elsewhere belies the claim that these are all peaceful refugees. Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo of Szeged-Csanad, whose diocese is being traversed by the migrants, said this: “This is an invasion. They come here with cries of 'Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over.” Indeed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 75% of the current wave of migrants are men.
Needless to say, there are genuine refugees mixed in with the economic migrants (and, yes, jihadis) now streaming into Europe. And if the numbers involved were limited, Europe likely could accommodate them. But opening the borders and inviting all who can reach European territory to come, as Angela Merkel and many others are essentially doing, is a recipe for disaster, for precisely the reasons that Viktor Orban is saying.
No doubt the Hungarians are acting this way in part because of their historical experience. For 150 years after the Battle of Mohacs, virtually all of modern Hungary was under Turkish rule. Thanks in part to the efforts of those earlier bulwarks of Christendom, Turkish armies never were able to conquer Vienna or the rest of German-speaking Europe. But the Germans may wish to reconsider the value of the Hungarians’ experience before ignoring what Orban and his countrymen are saying. Right now, though, it looks like Suleiman should have sent “migrants," not Janissaries, if he wanted to reach Vienna.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.