Hungary: Head of Group Victim of Assault

The head of a Hungarian minority rights group named after Raoul Wallenbeg was assaulted by anti-Semitic football fans.

Elad Benari ,

Anti-Semitism (illustration)
Anti-Semitism (illustration)
Israel news photo: archive

The head of a Hungarian minority rights group named after a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in World War II said Monday that he was assaulted by anti-Semitic football fans, AFP reports.

Ferenc Orosz, chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Association, was quoted as having told the Hungarian MTI news agency that while attending a match in Budapest on Sunday he had asked fans to refrain from chants such as "Sieg Heil".

He was physically threatened, called a "Jewish communist" and on leaving the stadium his exit was blocked by two assailants. One said "Sieg Heil" while the other broke his nose, Orosz said.

The incident comes ahead of a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest that organizers say is aimed at showing solidarity with Hungary's Jews amid a rise in anti-Semitism in the EU member state.

Peter Feldmajer, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Hungary (MAZSIHISZ), said that the assault on Orosz was "a manifestation of intolerance in society."

Anti-Semitic chants at a friendly with Israel last year prompted governing body FIFA to make Hungary to play a World Cup qualifier in an empty stadium in March, the first ever punishment issued by FIFA on grounds of anti-Semitism.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban will use a keynote speech at the WJC conference to "decisively answer that part of the world which accuses all Hungarians and the (Hungarian) government of anti-Semitism," his chief of staff said Monday, according to AFP.

The Chief of Staff, Janos Lazar, also said there would be a ban on any demonstrations at the time of the conference which might "offend the human dignity of participants.”

Orban has had to answer criticism that it is not doing enough to counter anti-Semitism and the rise of far-right extremism.

In March, a state honors list for cultural personalities included a prominent TV presenter and a musician both known for anti-Semitic and racist views.

Hungary asked the journalist, Ferenc Szaniszlo, to return the award he had been decorated with.

Szaniszlo said in a February 11, 2011, report on Echo TV that Hungary is suffering from “gypsy terror” and has been torn into “three parts” -- Hungarian, Jewish and gypsy -- and that “at the end someone will have to leave.”

He subsequently handed back the award, saying it “is not worth it if it is going to damage the country."

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.

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.

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 May, pig's feet were placed on a statue of Wallenberg, who as a diplomat based in Budapest during the Nazi era managed to save thousands of Jews from the gas chambers.