BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian police used tear gas to stop a fight among hundreds of refugees at a camp in an eastern city, officials said Monday.
The disturbance began when a Turkish man took the Quran from another Turkish man and stomped on it, which led to hundreds of others temporarily living at the refugee camp in Debrecen to join the dispute, police spokesman Lt. Denes Dobo said on state television.
Dozens of those involved in the fighting exited the refugee camp, setting fire to garbage containers and hitting cars and buses with sticks and stones before the arrival of over 150 police officers in riot gear. One police officer was hit by a rock and suffered superficial wounds.
"People went crazy from one moment to the other," said a refugee who has been in the Debrecen camp for several months and asked for anonymity because he did not want to compromise his status. "Some are still affected by the tear gas."
In the past year, Hungary has become a popular point of entry into the European Union for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees coming north through the Balkans. Most request asylum in Hungary but quickly move further west to countries like Germany and Sweden before their claims are settled.
Police said that last weekend they detained nearly 3,300 people entering Hungary illegally, most coming from Serbia, while some 65,000 migrants and refugees have come to Hungary so far this year.
Hungary is planning to build a 4-meter (13-foot) high fence on its border with Serbia "as fast as possible" to stop the flow of migrants, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said last week, while Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the country did not want to take in any economic migrants and would consider as refugees only those who were escaping a potential conflict in one of Hungary's neighboring countries.