GENEVA - The U.N. human rights chief accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday of being a racist, bully and xenophobe after the anti-immigrant, nationalist leader said he did not want his country to be "multi-colored."
In an op-ed piece distributed by his office, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein stood by his criticism of Orban for saying last month that "we do not want to be multi-colored by being mixed ... with others.
."..The experience of slow migration which we see in Western Europe if we go to a city like one of your cities, frankly, I see nothing attractive in that ... We do not want to be a multi-colored country," Orban told a gathering of Hungarian mayors on Feb. 8, according to his website.
Zeid described Orbán's speech as "a clear-cut statement of racism. It is an insult to every African, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latin American woman, man and child.
"It is time to stand up to the bullies of Mr Orbán's ilk," Zeid wrote. "So yes, I did call the increasingly authoritarian – though democratically elected – Viktor Orbán a racist and xenophobe."
There was no immediate response from Orban, whose government will contest an election on April 8 and has made attacks on the United Nations' open-door refugee policy part of its campaign.
Hungary, along with three other central and eastern European Union states, has rejected any participation in a mandatory EU scheme to share the burden of resettling migrants proposed by the European Commission.
In 2015, Hungary also fortified its southern border to stem an influx of migrants fleeing wars, persecution and poverty in the Middle East and Asia, though almost all were seeking asylum in more affluent western member states of the EU.