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Hungarian Jewish Community Fears Revival of Anti Semitism

Monday, August 27, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

By: Stefan J. Bos
Eastern Europe Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (ANS) -- A leader of Hungary's Jewish community has warned of renewed anti Semitism in this former Communist nation, as Jewish organizations took legal action against an ultra right wing party. "There is a revival of anti Semitism in Hungary, ahead of the upcoming elections," said Erno Lazarovits, Director Foreign Relations of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary.

Lazarovits confirmed to ASSIST News Service that eight Hungarian Jewish Organizations have filed a report with the Budapest Prosecutor General's Office to protest against what they call the "Nazi, anti-national conduct and incitement" by the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP).

Representatives of the groups, which also include the Hungarian Jewish Faith Alliance, told reporters that a July 25 statement from MIEP was "beyond the bounds of freedom of speech," and that legal action was required.

The move came after MIEP vice president Laszlo Bognar described the purchase of Hungary's most popular football (soccer) club, Ferencvaros, by Hungarian retail company Fotex Rt. as a dirty deal linked to the Budapest Jewry.

Speaking at a news conference Bognar said that the sale to Fotex Rt. with a Jewish Director is "contrary to the mentality of fans" who "consider themselves decent Hungarians."

In addition the President of the ruling right wing Smallholders Party, Jozsef Torgyan, suggested that the sale of Ferencvaros to Fotex Rt. was against "the national interest," of Hungary, although he did not elaborate.

MIEP Vice President Bognar defended his alleged anti Semitic comments saying that they reflected merely a sociological study. His remarks were condemned however by several Hungarian churches as well as opposition Members of Parliament and the Youth and Sports Ministry.

But Jewish official Lazarovits said the current center right Government has not clearly spoken out against the statements from MIEP, which is currently in opposition. Hungarian commentators point out that Prime Minister Viktor Orban does not want to spoil his political relationship with MIEP as the party may become a coalition partner in a future Government, following next years Parliamentary elections.

Lazarovits, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, said he is saddened that more than a decade after the collapse of Communism politicians are misusing Hungary's new found freedom for expressions of anti Semitism.

An estimated 600.000 Hungarian Jews were killed during World War Two by Nazi's and Hungarian fascists, but only recently school books were adjusted to better explain these events.

However many Hungarians find it difficult to face the realities of World War Two, when Hungary for the most part was a close ally to Nazi-Germany.

In recent years Hungarian Jewish cemeteries have been damaged and anti-Jewish parties re-emerged in the nineties during rallies in Budapest and football (soccer) matches.

As representatives of the estimated 100.000 Hungarian Jews still living in Hungary prepared to take legal steps against the latest political statements against them, tensions ran high during Saturday night's Ferencvaros match against its arch rival Ujpest.

This time Ujpest fans shouted anti Jewish slogans resembling the fascist era, while attacking journalists and television crews who they accused of being Jews. Ujpest-leader Zsolt Gyulay condemned the incidents, but reportedly said he does not know what can be done to stop the fans' anti-Semitic conduct.

Jewish representatives hope that better education will improve the situation, but they admit it may take a generation before anti semitism is dramatically diminished in Hungary, which hopes to join the European Union by 2004.

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Worthy Christian News » World News » Hungarian Jewish Community Fears Revival of Anti Semitism