A Hungarian member of the European Parliament has stirred controversy by suggesting that displaying pig heads on a border fence would be an efficient way to deter Muslim migrants from entering the country.
Gyorgy Schopflin, a member of ruling Hungarian Fidesz party, made the suggestion in response to criticism of local people who have placed carved root vegetable masks in the shape of human faces along the border, believing they would repel migrants from entering the EU-member country.
He said: "Human images are haram (religiously prohibited). But agree, pig's head would deter more effectively."
Muslims are barred from eating pork because pigs are considered unclean.
Over the weekend, Human Rights Watch director Andrew Stroehlein had written: "Refugees are fleeing war & torture, Hungary. Your root vegetable heads will not deter them."
In a follow-up tweet, Mr Stroehlein said: "Pig heads an ugly idea. Worse is reality of Hungary border abuses with violence against kids."
In comments to the Hungarian website mandiner.hu, Mr Schopflin said that the issue was a storm in a teacup.
"I did not humiliate anyone. I don't think it humiliates anyone if I say that the pig's head is haram, meaning that it is forbidden. This is certainly a statement of fact."
The vegetable heads along the border with Serbia were first reported by Hungarian media last week. There has reportedly been no effort by Hungarian police to remove them.
Last night, a member of European Parliament suggested putting pig heads on Hungary's border fence to scare refugees pic.twitter.com/QCKK11Xn1r— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) August 21, 2016
Human Rights Watch said in a report last month that migrants and refugees at Hungary's border with Serbia were being summarily forced back, in some cases violently.
Refugees, including many children, had been beaten with batons, attacked by guard dogs and sprayed by tear gas.
Hungarian officials said their attempts to stop the migrant wave, which reached more than one million people last year, is intended to defend Europe from mostly Muslims fleeing the war-torn Middle Eastern states.