Hungary is last front against 'Islamization' of Europe, prime minister says

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used his annual state of the nation speech to ramp up anti-immigration rhetoric Sunday, warning that pro-migration European governments have "opened the way to the decline of Christian culture and the advance of Islam."

Orban, who is favored to win a third term as prime minister when Hungary goes to the polls in April, conjured up the image of a Western Europe overtaken by Muslims, saying that "born Germans are being forced back from most large German cities, as migrants always occupy big cities first."

"We are those who think that Europe's last hope is Christianity," Orban said. "If hundreds of millions of young people are allowed to move north, there will be enormous pressure on Europe. If all this continues, in the big cities of Europe there will be a Muslim majority."

Orban claimed that his government had "prevented the Islamic world from flooding us from the south" and predicted that Islam would soon "knock on Central Europe's door" from the west, as well.

In 2015, Orban's government ordered the construction of fences along Hungary's borders with Serbia and Croatia in an effort to divert the flow of people seeking to reach Western Europe. Since then, the country's refugee camps have been closed, the support system for refugees greatly weakened and now sometimes only one or two asylum-seekers a day are processed in border "transit zones" made of shipping containers.

Last week, the government introduced legislation that would force  civic groups which organize, support or finance migration to seek permission from the interior minister to operate in Hungary, as well as pay a 25 percent levy on funding received from abroad.

People working with migrants could also be banned from going closer than five miles from most Hungarian borders, which could possibly prevent lawyers and others from being able to meet with asylum-seekers stopped at the border.

The draft legislation has drawn sharp criticism from the Council of Europe, Amnesty International and the German government, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.