Hungarians have been taking a walking tour to learn about Budapest’s Muslim community and its mosques as a way of overcoming fears about Muslim immigrants amid an anti-immigrant campaign by the government.
Budapest-based tour operator Setamuhely (Budapest Walkshop) takes visitors to see the city’s architectural and cultural sites and the Jewish and Muslim communities.
“I can say that this walk, ‘Muslims who live among us’, is the most popular tour,” said Anna Lenard who runs the tour.
“Most people have never met a Muslim in their life and this ... together with what they hear every day in the media causes a lot of tension and stress in daily life. I think this is the main reason why people are coming now.”
When the tour was set up nearly three years ago, very few people showed interest.
Lenard says most of the people on the four-hour walk have college degree and two-thirds of them are women.
Hungary’s migration crisis started in 2015, when hundreds of thousands of migrants crossed into the country from the Balkans. Most of the migrants, however, went to richer parts of western Europe.
A think tank has published data, showing some 60 percent of people deemed to be xenophobic and resentful of foreign immigrants this year, rising 19 points from two years ago.