President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz has demanded that a Belgian newspaper issue a clarification for reportedly misquoting him as saying that “Hungary wants to count the Jews.”
"Referring to your article in the 16 May edition where Martin Schulz is quoted as saying that ‘in Hungary they are counting the Jews’ I would like to strongly clarify that this is a misquote," Schulz’s spokesman Armin Machmer said in a letter to the Belgian daily newspaper Metro.
"In no way has President Schulz criticized the nation of Hungary or the Hungarian government for wanting to count Jews," he said, according to the European Jewish Press (EJP).
Machmer stressed that Schulz has in the past condemned a parliamentarian from the neo-Nazi Jobbik party who had wanted to compile a list of individuals of Jewish origins who are members of the Hungarian Parliament.
"President Schulz has strongly criticized this one individual case," Machmer said.
"We would therefore strongly urge you to clarify this in your next edition as serious misunderstandings have taken place in Hungary due to this misquote," he added, according to EJP.
A member of Hungary’s ruling Fidsz party, Gergely Gulyas, described Schulz’s statement as “an attempt at political influence by which the European Parliament President discredits the EU and its institutions in Hungary,” the European Jewish daily reported.
In the interview, Schulz was also quoted as saying that, “Racism and anti-Semitism have been put under control but not yet eliminated and the crisis has created a real danger for their revival.”
Anti-Semitism in Hungary has skyrocketed in recent years, causing apprehension within the local Jewish community. The stark increase is most widely attributed to the rise of the neo-Nazi Jobbik political party, which openly espouses blatantly anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs.