25 February 2009
25 February 2009
World Jewish Congress leader expresses concerns about rising anti-Semitism: "Anti-Jewish jibe by far-right Hungarian city councilor must not go unanswered"
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has protested against recent incidents of hate speech and incitement in Hungary, notably by a far-right politician in the town of Rajka, near the border with Slovakia. Attila Kiss, a member of the Rajka city council and the banned far-right paramilitary Hungarian Guard, had called on fellow councilors to take up "sickles and hacks" and "cleanse the synagogue of Kossuth Street," an apparent reference to two nearby synagogues both located in Kossuth Street. "Such an anti-Jewish jibe must not go unanswered. Such statements must be dealt with by strong political action," WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said. Last week, the Federation of Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) lodged an official complaint against Kiss.
Lauder noted that "The rise of the extremist paramilitary Hungarian Guard and similar groups and the verbal abuse directed from that political camp at religious and ethnic minorities in Hungary – not just Jews, but also Roma and others – are intolerable in a free and democratic country that protects minorities." The WJC president welcomed plans recently outlined by the Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány to introduce legislation punishing hate speech and the incitement to hate. "This is good news, and we hope such legislation will be adopted unanimously by the Hungarian Parliament very soon."
Ronald Lauder also praised the Gyurcsány's Government for staking strong action against the Hungarian Guard. "It was encouraging to learn that a court recently banned the guard, following action brought of the Prosecutor-General. I sincerely hope that this ruling will ultimately result in the disbanding of the Hungarian Guard," Lauder said. He offered Hungary the WJC's support in the fight against anti-Semitism and extremism, but added: "Ultimately, this problem needs to be dealt with by the Hungarians themselves. Therefore, we hope that political leaders speak out whenever incisive statements are made in the press or in public meetings."
The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 90 countries around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments and international organizations. The Federation of Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) is the Hungarian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.
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