About 10,000 Hungarians protested on Sunday against the far-right opposition Jobbik party, after one of its lawmakers triggered outrage and memories of Nazism by calling for lists of Jews to be drawn up.
The rally outside Budapest’s parliament brought together leaders from governing and opposition parties in an unprecedented show of unity in the country’s deeply divided political scene.
“We cannot allow things which belong to the darkest pages of history books to repeat themselves,” Antal Rogan, head of the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group, told demonstrators who waved national flags and demanded the resignation of Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi.
On Monday last week Gyongyosi, one of Jobbik’s 44 lawmakers in the 386-seat parliament, said after a debate on fighting in the Gaza Strip it would be “timely” to tally up people of Jewish ancestry in Hungary who posed a national security risk.
He later apologized and said his remarks had been misunderstood, adding that he was referring only to Hungarians with Israeli passports in the government and parliament. He said he would not resign.
“We do not want to live together with such malicious racist comments which we heard from Marton Gyongyosi, lawmaker of Jobbik, on Monday in parliament,” Rogan said.
Former Hungarian prime minister Gordon Bajnai of the centrist Egyutt (“Together”) 2014 movement said Gyongyosi’s remarks revealed the true nature of Jobbik and parties should join forces against the far right.
“If we want a new era of normality in politics in Hungary then this is the number one moral order: One must team up with everyone against the Nazis, but must not team up with the Nazis, not even for power,” Bajnai told the rally.
Jobbik was registered as a party in 2003 and won increasing influence from 2006 onwards. In 2010 it became the third-biggest party in parliament on a campaign vilifying the Roma minority and attracting voters frustrated by a deepening economic crisis.
The party has retained support in the recession-hit central European country and some analysts said it could hold the balance of power between center-right Fidesz and the left-wing opposition in the next elections in 2014.
Attila Mesterhazy, leader of the biggest opposition party, the Socialists, said: “Fascism is a virus and Jobbik is the one spreading this virus.”
He called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to speak up in parliament yesterday to condemn Jobbik.
Jobbik dismissed the protest as “political alarmism” in a statement on Sunday, adding that its opponents’ comments reflected desperation over the rise of the party’s support.
The government condemned Gyongyosi’s remarks in a statement on Tuesday last week, pledging to do “everything” to suppress extremist, racist and anti-Semitic voices.
The protesters, who gathered in wintry temperatures, demanded immediate action against the far right and welcomed the rare manifestation of unity from politicians at the rally.
“I have come because eight members of my family were taken away [by the Nazis] and only four returned home,” Andor Freud, 76, said.
Businessman Gyorgy Sarkozy, 43, said: “It’s very important to be here in person, all of us, to protest against what’s happening in Hungary now. This is the shame of the world, this fascist movement. Perhaps now we will see such joining of forces which will not only restrain their [Jobbik’s] rhetoric, but also this whole Nazi party. This is a Nazi party.”
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, according to a memorial center in Budapest. Some survivors reached Israel. About 100,000 Jews now live in Hungary.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around