Hungary's main Jewish organization called Wednesday for a ban on the naming of public spaces after the country's wartime leader Miklos Horthy, an ally of Adolf Hitler who oversaw the deportation of Jews, AFP reported.
The call by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) followed the decision on Tuesday by the mayor of Kunhegyes, a small town in eastern Hungary, to rename a street after Horthy.
An autocrat who ruled from 1920 to 1944 when he was deposed by Nazi Germany,
Horthy is revered by some as a hero who saved the country after a short-lived communist revolution in 1919 and the traumatic loss of two-thirds of its territory at the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty.
However, he also passed anti-Jewish laws, which brought the country into an uneasy alliance with Hitler and was in charge when its Jews began being deported to Nazi death camps.
Horthy had "direct responsibility for the killing and destruction of several hundred thousand Hungarian Jews," Mazsihisz said in a statement Wednesday.
Last year, the government passed a law stipulating that from January 1, public areas could not be named after historical figures with associations to dictatorships, but this did not cover Horthy, who is not viewed as a dictator, according to AFP.
On Tuesday meanwhile, Hungary's constitutional court annulled passages from the country's Penal Code banning the use of symbols associated with Nazi and Communist dictatorships.
The 20-year-old law carried fines for wearing or promoting symbols like an SS-badge, the Hungarian Nazi arrow-cross, the hammer and sickle, the five-pointed red star or images including those symbols.
The court said the annulled parts were too broad and not sufficiently delineated.
Recently, a far-right lawmaker from Hungary’s Jobbik party, known for its blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric, released a statement calling for a list to be compiled of all of the Jewish members of parliament, claiming that government officials of Jewish origin had unduly influenced Hungary’s policy in the Mideast.