A court in Budapest has convicted a Hungarian Holocaust denier to a suspended 18 month jail sentence. The judge also ordered him to visit either Auschwitz, the Budapest Holocaust memorial site or Yad Vashem in Jerusalem at least three times and to write down his thoughts afterwards. It was the first conviction for Holocaust denial in Hungary under a new law enacted in 2010. The sentence also bans the unemployed computer technician from attending political rallies or events. The 42-year-old man had held up a banner at a rally which stated, in Hebrew, ‘The Holocaust never happened’. The man was arrested by police 15 minutes later.
Recently, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma incidents in Hungary have risen strongly, and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel last year returned a decoration given to him by Hungary in protest at the glorification of pro-Nazi World War II leaders in Hungary. The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, also spoke out against incitement to hatred directed at Jews and Roma. Lauder urged Hungary's Prime Minister Viktór Orbán in November to take distance himself from the extremists and to take “decisive actions” against those who perpetrate attacks against Jews and Roma. Orbán has been accused of pandering to nationalists, amid renewed tributes to Hungary's wartime leader Miklós Horthy, an ally of Adolf Hitler, and the rehabilitation of some anti-Semitic writers.
An estimated 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust.
Picture above: Hungarian Jewish Community President Péter Feldmájer at the Budapest Holocaust memorial site.