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June 2, 2020
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Hungarian ultra-right MP says Romani people are one of the country's "biggest problems"

Budapest, 12.2.2015 1:04, (ROMEA)
Rikárdó, the first newborn of 2015 in Hungary with his mother Sylvia (right), and Előd Novák (inset on left), an MP with the right-wing extremist Jobbik party (PHOTO:  Facebook.com, YouTube, collage - Romea.cz)
Rikárdó, the first newborn of 2015 in Hungary with his mother Sylvia (right), and Előd Novák (inset on left), an MP with the right-wing extremist Jobbik party (PHOTO: Facebook.com, YouTube, collage - Romea.cz)

The first child born in 2015 would usually just get a brief mention in the Hungarian media. Rikárdó Rácz, however, became the most famous infant in the country within the course of a few days' time.

The BBC reports that because Rikárdó is Romani and the third child in his family, he has ended up, through no fault of his own, at the center of a national debate about racism. He was born at one minute after midnight on New Year's Day.

A photograph of the newborn and his parents made the front page of both local and statewide media outlets. Hungarian MP Elöd Novák, who is one of the leading representatives of the ultra-right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) party, then posted the photo of the Romani family and their infant on Facebook next to a photo of his own five-member family and commented:  "The number of Hungarians is not only declining catastrophically, we will soon become a minority in our own homeland. When will the day come that they decide to change Hungary's name? When will we finally deal with what is one of the biggest problems in the country?"  

The post unleashed an avalanche of both agreement and criticism. "They are multiplying like rats, like parasites," is a typical comment about the Roma from a Jobbik supporter, according to the BBC.

Politicians in the government and in the opposition have been doing their best to outdo each other in their expressions and gestures of solidarity with the Romani family, on the other hand. The newborn and his relatives live in the southern Hungarian town of Makó.

Péter Rácz, Rikárdó's father, says they are the only Romani family there, that they get along with their neighbors without any difficulty, and that they have never encountered any enmity or racism. "I want a calm family life without media attention, just a hot meal when I get home from work and my family around me," he told the BBC.  

Sylvia, Rikárdó's mother, said the family has never experienced any racist treatment. "Now my child is giving me the strength for us get through this," she said.

Novák has refused to apologize for his remarks. The BBC reports that the ultra-right media in Hungary are full of reporting about the Roma and consistently label them the country's biggest problem.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Hungary, Jobbik, Racism, Roma



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