“At first glance, the video looks like a Hollywood thriller. Set to strident, aggressive music, it shows a group of muscular men using motorbikes, helicopters and even horses to race across the countryside in pursuit of human quarry.
When the targets are captured, they are wrestled to the ground and their hands bound as the patrol members, in camouflage clothing, stand menacingly over them.
But the ‘narrator’ whose voice can be heard over these chilling scenes is not a highly-paid movie star. He is, in fact, a provincial politician, and his message is unequivocal: ‘Hungary is a bad choice for migrants.’
He’s been true to his word. His team of bounty hunters have caught hundreds of immigrants trying to make it into Hungary, on the way to neighbouring Austria and beyond, on the so-called Balkan smuggling route. The man’s name is Laszlo Toroczkai, a charismatic 45-year-old mayor who has made it his life’s work to prevent what he calls the destruction of his country.
Mayor Toroczkai is in charge of a small Hungarian town called Asotthalom, on the border with Serbia — a nation still outside the EU — which was pitched into the centre of the refugee crisis in 2015, when thousands of immigrants started pouring across the unprotected border each day.
The crisis erupted after Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, announced to the world that Europe would welcome refugees, prompting more than one million to head to Germany alone, while hundreds of thousands of others made for Britain, France and Italy.
With locals in Asotthalom — a traditional farming town with a population of 5,000 — finding groups of immigrants sleeping in their gardens and outbuildings, and others watching aghast as thousands streamed through the centre of the village on their way through Europe, the mayor decided enough was enough.
He has introduced a zero-tolerance policy against all migrants, saying that the very future of Europe is at stake because of people he calls Muslim ‘invaders’ and ‘future terrorists’, and has vowed to stop this movement of people.”
Or so he would have it if he could