Hungary has demanded that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein (photo), step down from his post following a speech on rising xenophobia in Europe in which he singled out Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The Hungarian government deemed Zeid's comments about Orban's anti-immigration rhetoric to be "unacceptable" and "inappropriate."
"Xenophobes and racists in Europe are casting off any sense of embarrassment — like Hungary's Viktor Orban who earlier this month said 'we do not want our color ... to be mixed in with others'," the Jordanian UN diplomat said at the opening of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
He was referencing a speech that Orban gave on February 8 when he said Hungary does not "want to be a multicolored country."
"Do they not know what happens to minorities in societies where leaders seek ethnic, national or racial purity?" Zeid asked.
Hungary: 'This is simply unacceptable'
The comments drew the indignation of the Hungarian government. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that it was "obvious that Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein must step down. He is unworthy of his position."
Szijjarto said the UN rights chief had "accused Hungary [of being] comparable to the worst dictatorships of the last century."
"It is very inappropriate that UN officials accuse member states and democratically elected leaders," he said, insisting that "this is simply unacceptable."
Hungary's top diplomat defended his government's position on the issue, saying that migration was a dangerous trend that needed to be stopped because it fostered terrorism and threatened Hungary's cultural identity.
Szijjarto insisted that the UN and other international organizations had no business telling Hungary who it should allow into the country, or that it should not criminalize illegal migration. "Violating borders must be considered as crime and must be sanctioned," he said.
The UN human rights chief's current tenure expires in August, and he has already indicated that he will not be seeking a second term.
jcg/cmk (dpa, AP)