Hungarian protest against anti-Semitic politicians
Hungarian protest against anti-Semitic politiciansBernadett Szabo/Reuters

The unveiling of a statue of a World War II-era Hungarian politician -- seen as anti-Semitic by Hungary's largest Jewish group -- was canceled Wednesday after a protest.

Several dozen protesters holding placards reading "Racism out" surrounded the covered statue of Gyorgy Donath, a member of Hungary's wartime government which was allied with Nazi Germany and brought in anti-Jewish laws.

"I don't see why this person should ever have a statue in a public place in Hungary," one protestor Gabor Eross told AFP, later climbing onto the statue with a placard.

A senior member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's governing party Fidesz due to deliver a speech at the unveiling announced at the scene, some 100 meters away from the city's Holocaust museum, that the ceremony had been canceled.

"The circumstances are not good," Gergely Gulyas, a vice-president of Fidesz, told AFP before leaving.

As a government member between 1939 and 1944, Donath supported laws against Hungary's Jewish and ethnic-German minorities, although he was not part of the Hungarian fascist regime installed by the Nazis in late-1944.

He was executed for treason in 1947 at a show trial orchestrated by the communist regime which seized power at that time.

"One cannot turn a blind eye to Donath's shameful political role... [even if he later] became a victim of communism," Hungary's largest Jewish group Mazsihisz said in a statement Tuesday.

The incident comes two months after a planned statue of another controversial World War II politician, Balint Homan, was canceled in the city of Szekesfehervar following widespread outrage from Jewish and civil groups, as well as a US envoy on anti-Semitism.

Homan was a key architect of anti-Semitic laws in the run-up to the Holocaust in 1930s Hungary.