Far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos is slated to speak at an event funded by the Hungarian government in January.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Yiannopoulos, the keynote speaker, is expected to address the “challenges of the Western World” in Budapest on January 23.
A former technology editor at the far-right Breitbart news outlet, Yiannopoulos achieved notoriety in 2015 after making a series of statements supporting anti-feminists.
The conservative provocateur adheres to a “West is best” mantra, taking a stance against immigration and refugees.
He once told a radio host that if Australians allowed 12,000 Syrian refugees to stay in their country, it would result in their “daughters being raped”.
Hungary’s Fidesz government, led by President Viktor Orban, also takes a hardline stance against refugees. The country is being sued by the European Union for refusing the bloc’s mandatory quota to accept asylum seekers, as part of efforts to resettle arriving refugees more equally across the continent.
For Zoltan Pogatsa, a Hungarian political economist and expert on European integration, Yiannopoulos is a clear choice, due to his anti-refugee rhetoric.”In the last two or three years [Fidesz has] basically been running this kind of ideology. [It is] critical of refugees coming from Islamic countries.”
The EU is also suing Poland and the Czech Republic for low refugee resettlement.
Along with Slovakia, the countries have been protesting against the EU refugee resettlement scheme. In September, the European Court of Justice dismissed their challenge.
Yiannopoulos’ anti-refugee rhetoric “fits into the ideas of the entire region”, Pogatsa said.
The inclusion of Milo is impossible to understand, as he is a flamboyant, openly gay internet troll, whereas Fidesz tries to sell itself as a conservative, pro-family values party.
The origins of the Visegrad group, or V4, lie in a 1991 summit after the fall of the Soviet Union. The summit took place in Visegrad, a Hungarian city on the border with Slovakia.
The countries, three at the time due to still-unified Czechoslovakia, agreed to military, cultural, economic and energy cooperation.
All four nations joined the EU in May 2004.
The choice of Yiannopoulos did surprise some, however, including Cas Mudde, an expert in European far-right movements and professor at the University of Georgia.
“The inclusion of Milo is impossible to understand, as he is a flamboyant, openly gay internet troll, whereas Fidesz tries to sell itself as a conservative, pro-family values party,” Mudde told Al Jazeera.
Yiannopoulos is a homosexual who married his long-time partner, a black man. In spite of this, he has frequently spoken out against LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage.
Scott Long, an activist focused on LGBTQ rights, tweeted: “Neofascist Viktor Orban enlists gay fascist Milo Yiannopoulos to keynote a conference of the Visegrad Group … The horrors never stop.”
Will other V4 nations welcome speakers?
Yiannopoulos lost a book deal with a reported $250,000 advance after a video surfaced in which he appears to endorse child sexual abuse.
Gotz Kubitschek, a German philosopher, nationalist and member of the ethnocentrist European Identitarian movement, with ties to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, will also speak at the January event.
Mudde was unsure Yiannopoulos and Kubitschek would be well-received by the other three V4 members.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are not so closely related to the ethnocentric far-right.
The Polish government is ruled by the conservative Catholic Law and Justice party, whose members have a history of anti-LGBTQ statements.
They “will despise [Yiannopoulos] and be wary about a German nationalist” as Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1939, Mudde said.
Al Jazeera contacted the Hungarian government for comment but it did not immediately respond.