A Hungarian city’s bid to become the European Union’s next “Capital of Culture” was allegedly rejected by EU officials because its video entry showed too many smiling, dancing, white Christians, the city’s mayor says.

Székesfehérvár, Hungary’s ninth-largest city, submitted a short video as part of its entry for the 2023 European Capitals of Culture contest, a competition designed to “celebrate the cultural features Europeans share.” Featuring folk dancers, young couples, mothers, babies and even two elderly gentlemen playing chess in a park, the video was rejected. The EU panel of “independent experts in the field of culture” felt it had too many happy white people and not enough migrants, the city’s mayor Dr András Cser-Palkovics has claimed.

Speaking at a press conference after the panel’s ruling, Cser-Palkovics said that his city’s entry never received a fair hearing, and that the panel’s decision was purely political.

According to Cser-Palkovics, one member of the jury of “experts,” whom he identified as a Belgian politician, strongly disapproved of the promotional video, calling it a “propaganda film for white Christian Europe” in which “everyone is white, happy and dancing in the streets.”

He said that the panel criticized the film for leaving out “the poor and migrants” while having too many “crosses and churches.”

Unapologetic for the video’s content, Cser-Palkovics told Hungarian media that “we love our city with our temples and our crosses. We love being safe, calm, and that people can democratically confess their own values,” adding that he would push for a government inquiry into how the contest is managed.

“I would like to bring the matter before the general assembly and inform all members of the board about the style and content of the hearing as well as about practically denying our own culture.”

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