Thousands Rally Against Anti-Semitism in Budapest
Several thousand people attended a rally in front of Hungary's parliament Sunday to protest anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli remarks by far-right politicians, AFP reported. The rally, called "Mass Protest against Nazism", organized by a Jewish group and a Pentecostal-Evangelical church, was called in response to remarks in parliament by a deputy in the far-right Jobbik party.
Marton Gyongyosi last Monday proposed drawing up a list of people in "of Jewish origin (who) present a national security risk to Hungary."
In a rare show of unity from Hungarian politicians, leading figures from both the right and left appeared together on the same platform at the rally. Around 10,000 people attended the event according to Hungarian media estimates and an AFP photographer.
Some demonstrators wore yellow stars pinned to their clothes and carried Hungarian flags, while one banner read "Jobbik are the real national security risk to Hungary".
Antal Rogan, leader of the ruling conservative Fidesz party's parliamentary caucus, told protestors that all the genocides of the 20th century had begun with lists. "No one should be allowed to violate the dignity of others, or stigmatize them with threatening lists," he said, adding that he always brought his children on the annual "Walk of Life" Holocaust commemoration in Budapest.
But some demonstrators turned their back to the stage in protest during Rogan's speech. Fidesz, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has often been accused of adopting populist and nationalistic policies to appeal to Jobbik's voter base. "You created Jobbik, Viktor", shouted one protestor.
Former prime minister Gordon Bajnai, who many think could challenge Orban in the next elections in 2014, said this was not the time for blaming either the previous government or the present one. "Now is the time for unity against hatred", he said.
Attila Mesterhazy, leader of the largest opposition party, the Socialists, called on Fidesz to help "quarantine" Jobbik and on Orban to directly condemn Jobbik in parliament Monday. "Once and for all, Viktor Orban should with his own voice, decisively, categorically, and clearly distance himself from and condemn Jobbik," he said.
Police removed a small group of counter-demonstrators shouting "Filthy Jews" as they attempted to disrupt the protest.