Ahmed H was helping his parents to cross into Hungary when police clashed with asylum seekers.
A Syrian refugee has been sentenced to seven years in prison and a 10-year ban from Hungary after a Hungarian court found him guilty of throwing rocks at police officers and entering the country illegally, convicting him of terrorism.
Ahmed H was accompanying his parents in their journey to the Europe as refugees in 2015, just as some European countries were tightening their migration policies, but were stopped among other migrants in the Roszke crossing point in the border between Hungary and Serbia. He also holds a Cypriot passport and was living in Cyprus at the time of the incident.
As the group of asylum seekers was getting bigger and tension was accumulating, Hungarian police responded with teargas and water cannons, provoking many to start throwing rocks and other objects at them.
Before the retrial, the Hungarian government official Facebook page posted an album called “Ahmed H is a terrorist” showing pictures of the riot and narrating Ahmed's involvement in it.
Pictures show Ahmed using a megaphone talking both to asylum seekers and the police, trying to stop an actual confrontation and telling police officers that they “came in peace,” but as the conflict escalated he also threw two rocks at them, as he reportedly confessed.
"We did not go to the border to cause problems," Ahamed was quoted as saying by local news website Index. "Neither my culture, nor my religion would encourage that."
An original trial convicted Ahmed in November 2016, but a retrial just took place as his defense asked for new evidence to be taken into consideration.
"After more than two and a half years behind bars, this absurd decision comes as a devastating blow for Ahmed, his wife, and his two young daughters," Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International's campaigner on counterterrorism in Europe told Al-Jazeera, who also called the sentence “a blatant misuse of terrorism-related provisions.”
Hungary's ruling nationalist Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Alliance party and its Prime Minister Viktor Orban have enforced a hard stance on refugees and asylum seekers since 2013, which was only aggravated during the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015.
Orban has been campaigning on an anti-immigration platform and the sentence comes just weeks ahead the April 8 elections.
Fidesz, an Hungarian acronym for Alliance of Young Democrats, emerged in the late 1980s as a liberal opposition to the communist party and started to radicalize its social policies after the communist block crumbled in the 1990s.
The party has enjoyed parliamentary supermajority since 2010, allowing it and Orban to even change the constitution.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner, called Orban a xenophobe and a racist in February, after the Hungarian prime minister said that they didn't want their “own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed by others.”
"Cultivation of a siege mentality among majority populations is a marker of today's ethno-populism," Zeid said. According to official numbers, Hungary deported about 22,000 migrants in 2017.