CAIR calls for boycott of CPAC Hungary conference featuring racist speakers

CAIR calls for boycott of CPAC Hungary conference featuring racist speakers
The upcoming CPAC event in Budapest featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and other far right-wing figures is raising concerns among civil rights advocates as well as some conservatives.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
07 April, 2022
Viktor Orban is known for his bigotry and ties to right-wing political figures. [Getty]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to cancel an event in May in Budapest featuring as its keynote speaker Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

The Hungarian leader, who was re-elected earlier this month, is known for his xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric and policies, as well as has friendly relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 

During his time in office, Orban cracked down on the press, rolled back protections for the LGBTQ community, instituted policies that have helped erode multiparty democracy, and has regularly attacked the European Union, of which Hungary is a member.

In 2018, he said, "We do not want to be a diverse country." In 2020, he said, "The challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with two million Muslims." 

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Orban's criticism of Hungarian-born billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whose name is often invoked in anti-Semitic rhetoric, including a massive anti-Soros billboard campaign.

His policies have not only attracted solidarity from Russian president Vladimir Putin, but also from right-wing leaders across western Europe and the United States.

Among those who congratulated Orban on his recent election victory were UK Brexit leader Nigel Farage, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Orban was the first European leader to endorse Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other far-right figures slated to speak at the event include Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain's far-right Vox party.

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Robert McCaw, CAIR's government affairs director said in a statement on the group's website, "We urge any Americans who do not wish to be associated with authoritarianism, racism or Putin's war on Ukraine to boycott this CPAC event in Hungary. It makes no sense for an American political organization to hold an event in a foreign country with speakers who promote fascism, racism and bigotry, including Islamophobia and antisemitism."

Other civil rights organisations are raising the alarm over CPAC's conference in Budapest, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which predicts that democracy advocates will be paying close attention to what transpires.

Some conservatives have also raised concerns, including American right-wing commentator Charlie Sykes, who wrote a column titled "CPAC Goes Full Orban" shortly after the confirmation of the conference.