07 April 2010
More than 1,000 Jews marched through Budapest's Old Ghetto district in response to a series of anti-Semitic incidents and the polarized political climate in the run-up to Hungary's elections next week. The marchers defied a police recommendation to keep a low profile and marched through the neighborhood of the Great Dohány Street Synagogue wearing yarmulkes. The police recommendation was issued last week, after the windows of a Chabad rabbi’s home had been smashed twice during a Passover Seder.
Over the last week, anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in various places in Budapest, a Holocaust memorial was damaged in the western Hungarian city of Zalaegerszeg and neo-Nazis held an anti-Semitic rally in the eastern city of Tiszaeszlár, where a notorious blood libel against the local Jewish community led to pogroms in 1882-83.
Organized by the Hungarian Jewish community, the Budapest demonstration was secured by the police, and no violence was reported.
Jews in Hungary have repeatedly expressed concern about anti-Semitic overtones in the election campaign. The poll is set for 11 April, with a possible run-off on April 25, and the extreme-right Jobbik party is expected to score significant gains. Jobbik is campaigning on a platform that blames most of Hungary’s woes on Roma (Gypsies) and Jews. In 2007 it also founded the now banned paramilitary Hungarian Guard.
Photo above (Reuters): A supporter of the far-right party Jobbik, with a swastika painted on his head, attends a rally in Budapest on 23 October 2009
Photo below: Rally of the Hungarian Guard.
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