BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary's prime minister, who has expressed fears that migration will undermine Europe's Christian identity, told Egypt's visiting president Friday that he nonetheless respects Islam "as one of the great intellectual and spiritual creations of humanity."
"In many places in Europe today there is fear of Islam, moreover there are places where it is considered an enemy," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. "Hungary is not such a country."
Orban also told Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi that Egypt was indispensable for stability in the Arab world and "since distances in the modern world have shrunk ... there is no stability in Europe without a stable Egypt."
El-Sissi, who overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi following mass protests in 2013 and won elections a year ago, urged Hungary to take part in Egypt's economic development and act as an advocate for his country.
"I expressed my desire ... for Hungary to take a stand for Egypt within the European Union and explain to the Europeans the results achieved by the Egyptian leadership in the past year," el-Sissi said.
El-Sissi's visit to Germany on Tuesday was met by protesters and Chancellor Angela Merkel was critical of the large number of death sentences handed out in Egypt since Morsi's ouster.
In contrast, Orban, who caused a furor recently by saying the death penalty, banned in the EU, needed to be "kept on the agenda" even if Hungary had no plans to try to reintroduce it, said Western ideals were not necessarily suited for everyone.
"Deciding this is not our job, so we are not professors of democracy," Orban said. "We are glad that the Egyptian people are traveling down their own path," adding that he hoped for their success.
During their meeting, the two countries signed several cooperation agreements and Orban said Hungary would provide scholarships to 100 Egyptian students.