The first Hungarian convicted under a new Holocaust denial law has been given a suspended 18-month jail sentence and has to visit Budapest's memorial museum, Auschwitz or Yad Vashem, a court ruled Friday.
AFP reported that in addition to visiting Budapest's Holocaust Memorial Center three times the man, Gyorgy Nagy, has to write down his thoughts. Alternatively he can go to the Auschwitz former death camp in Poland or the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem.
The sentence, which also bans the unemployed computer technician from attending political rallies or events, is the first conviction since a new law came into force in 2010.
Attending a political rally in Budapest in 2011, the 42 year-old held up a banner with the Hebrew-language inscription, “The Shoah (Holocaust) did not happen.”
The banner was visible for around 15 minutes before Nagy was detained by police, the weekly newspaper HVG reported.
The denial of the genocide committed by the Nazi regime was declared a crime punishable by a maximum three-year prison sentence by the Hungarian parliament in February 2010, AFP reported.
Later in 2010, the denial of crimes against humanity committed during Hungary's communist era was also declared a crime by the incoming right-wing government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
Orban has however been accused of pandering to nationalists and of stoking anti-Semitism, amid renewed tributes to Hungary's wartime leader Miklos Horthy, an ally of Adolf Hitler, and the rehabilitation of some anti-Semitic writers.
In 2012, Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel returned Hungary's highest state honor because of what he called a "whitewashing" of history in the European Union member state.
Last month, residents of the small Hungarian town of Gyomro failed to stop a park from taking on Horthy’s name, after too few voters turned out for a referendum on the issue.
The park was named after Horthy last year, following a motion by the far-right nationalist Jobbik party, the third-largest in parliament. Angry locals forced the referendum, but it was declared invalid after only 18 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
The neo-Nazi Jobbik recently made headlines for several anti-Semitic statements by its officials. In late November, a far-right deputy from the party called publicly for the resignation of a fellow MP who claimed to have Israeli citizenship.
At a press conference, deputy Elod Novak called for the resignation of Katalin Ertsey, of the small opposition party LMP, saying that it was unacceptable that she had kept her dual Hungarian-Israeli citizenship secret.
He later told news portal Index, "Israel has more deputies in the Hungarian parliament than they have in the Israeli Knesset."
The comments came after another member of Jobbik In released a statement saying that a list should be compiled of all of the Jewish members of parliament and government.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)