Budapest Mayor to Review Naming of Street After Anti-Semite
The mayor of Budapest ordered a review on Thursday of a city hall decision to name a street after an author called "openly anti-Semitic" by Hungary's top Jewish organization, AFP reported.
The Budapest City Hall voted on Wednesday to name a street in the city after Cecile Tormay, a Hungarian novelist and short-story writer in the early 20th century known for her hatred of Jews.
In a statement to local newswire MTI, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) urged Mayor Istvan Tarlos to revoke the decision.
"She was openly anti-Semitic, while her ideas and thoughts were taken as guidelines by leading anti-Semitic figures in Hungarian politics," Mazsihisz was quoted by AFP as having said.
Tarlos later told MTI that he had ordered a review and new debate on the case and had asked the Hungarian Academy of Science for their official stance on Tormay.
Tormay, who died in 1937 at the age of 75, was a popular novelist and short-story writer in Hungary between the two world wars.
She blamed Jews for the dismemberment of Hungary following the post-World War I Trianon peace treaty in 1920, and once boasted of having been a fascist before Mussolini.
"She was (Hungary's wartime leader and Hitler ally) Miklos Horthy's favorite author," Mazsihisz said, according to AFP.
Horthy, an autocrat who ruled from 1920 to 1944 when he was deposed by Nazi Germany, passed anti-Jewish laws, brought the country into an uneasy alliance with Hitler and was in charge when its Jews began being deported to death camps.
A park has already been named after him in Gyomro, on the outskirts of Budapest.
Mazsihisz said it was "shocking" that the decision to dub the formerly unnamed street in the city's 2nd district after Tormay was made on the 75th anniversary of the day the first of several anti-Jewish laws came into force in Hungary.
In 1938, Horthy passed a series of laws restricting the numbers of Jews companies and institutions could employ.
Mazsihisz called on Tarlos, an independent politician with close ties to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing Fidesz party, "not to name public areas in the city after personalities whose life and works raise doubts about the government's commitment to fight anti-Semitism".
At the World Jewish Congress held in Budapest earlier this month, Orban said his government was doing everything to defend Hungary's 100,000-strong Jewish community from "unacceptable and intolerable" anti-Semitism.
In a press release, WJC president Ronald Lauder expressed his consternation at the decision which "puts the Hungarian government's pledge to act against anti-Semitism into doubt".
Anti-Semitism in Hungary has been on the rise over the past several years. Recent incidents include Hungary's chief rabbi being verbally abused on a Budapest street, anti-Semitic chants at a football match against Israel and pig's trotters being placed on a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Budapest Jews in World War II.
In late November, a far-right deputy from the openly anti-Semitic Jobbik party called publicly for the resignation of a fellow MP who claimed to have Israeli citizenship.
The comments came after another Jobbik parliamentarian released a statement saying that a list should be compiled of all of the Jewish members of government.