11 May 2012
Ilan Mor, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, has canceled a planned visit to the northern town of Eger to protest against anti-Semitic comments about the Jewish actor Jozsef Szekhelyi (pictured). Mor expressed support for Szekhelyi, a veteran actor who has appeared in dozens of Hungarian films.
In an audio recording of an Eger Tourism and Culture Commission meeting that took place last September and came to light earlier this month, a local council member from the governing Fidesz party is heard saying that even though Szekhelyi was a “filthy Jew” sympathetic to leftist-liberal politics, he was still a good actor. Reportedly, Szekhelyi was denied participation in Eger’s annual cultural festival because “he was not welcome by the inhabitants of the city”.
Earlier this week the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (Mazsihisz) filed a complaint with police and asked the local prosecutor to investigate the incident.
Eger’s mayor sent a statement to the Hungarian media distancing himself from accusations of anti-Semitism. “We are aware that Eger would not be what it is today without Jews,” he said. “I would like Ambassador Mor to get to know us and see that there is no discrimination in Eger.”
According to the news source ‘Hungary Around the Clock’, the Budapest Jewish community has planned a solidarity event for Szekhelyi for next Sunday.
Anti-Semitic sentiment is on the rise in Hungary and fueled by extremist parties such as Jobbik.
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