24 November 2009
A member of the extreme-right Hungarian party Jobbik has promised the extermination of “vermin” in a forthcoming “cleansing” of the Hungarian nation. The man made the remark during a mass rally organized by the party commemorating the rule of Miklós Horthy, the Hungarian leader who authorized the deportation of half a million Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps during World War II. An 5,000 Jobbik supporters, as well as 450 to 500 uniformed members of the banned Hungarian Guard, tried to march through downtown Budapest. Only the non-uniformed participants were allowed to proceed, however, after the Guard members agreed to withdraw under police orders. Fourteen people were arrested.
The march was followed by a public meeting in Old Buda, adjacent to the scene of the final, murderous resistance of the Nazis during the 1944-45 siege of Budapest by the Red Army. Horthy’s rule was characterized by the infamous “White Terror”, most of whose victims were Jews, followed by an intensifying series of anti-Jewish legislation, and culminating in the Holocaust.
Budapest police said they had informed Jobbik leaders prior to the event that anyone wearing the banned uniform would be stopped and prevented from joining the parade. Socialist Party leader Ildiko Lendvai and anti-fascist civil groups spoke out against the march, which they called a "neo-fascist parade". Lendvai called on Hungary’s mainstream political parties to dissociate themselves from the march.
A week prior to that, Jobbik held a meeting in Sajóbábony, a town of 3,000 inhabitants some 120 miles east of Budapest. Local members of the Roma minority, who are regularly attacked by Jobbik leaders – reacted angrily and attempted to disrupt the meeting. Six members of the Hungarian Guard were arrested and will be prosecuted, according to the local police.
Jobbik has gained in strength in recent months and won several seats in elections for the European Parliament last June. One of Jobbik’s three members of the European Parliament, Csanád Szegedi – who reportedly wore his Hungarian Guard uniform to work in Brussels – issued a statement condemning the Roma, police and mainstream political groups. He claimed that the Roma were “terrorising” Hungarians of northeast Hungary “on the provocation of the parliamentary parties”. Aladár Horváth, head of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation, said Jobbik had deliberately set out to provoke tension with its march in Sajóbábony.
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