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Hungary court repeals town’s decree banning mosques, hijab

BUDAPEST: Hungary’s highest court on Wednesday repealed a far-right mayor’s decree banning the construction of mosques and the wearing of clothes such as the niqab in his town.

The decree in Asothalom, close to the Serbian border, was “unconstitutional” and “infringed fundamental rights”, the constitutional court in Budapest said.

The directive was introduced last November by Laszlo Toroczkai, a vice-president of the radical-right Jobbik party.
He gained prominence in 2015 when he filmed an action movie-style video at a fence on the Serbian border warning asylum-seekers not to enter Hungary.

The 39-year-old said last year the Asothalom decree was aimed at “protecting the community and its traditions from any mass settlement from outside”.

Asothalom, a town of around 4,000 people, has few migrants.

The Hungarian Islamic Community (MIK), estimated to have around 40,000 members, had called the measures “xenophobic” and asked the constitutional court to examine their validity.

At the height of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, over 400,000 people, many fleeing the Syrian civil war, passed through European Union member Hungary on their way to western and northern Europe.

Right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a strong admirer of US President Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration, calling it the “Trojan horse of terrorism”.

Last month, his government announced it would detain all asylum-seekers in container camps on its southern border with Serbia, a plan that has drawn criticism from rights groups and the UN.

Budapest has also refused to take part in an EU scheme to evenly share migrants around the bloc.

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