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August 16, 2022



Hungary's Jewish Community protests PM Orbán's racist speech in which he said Hungarians don't want to become a "mixed-race" nation

27.7.2022 7:13
Viktor Orbán (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, Elekes Andor)
Viktor Orbán (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, Elekes Andor)

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (Mazsihisz) has announced that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sparked "serious concerns in the Jewish community" on Saturday when he declared that "Hungarians do not want to become a mixed-race nation"; Reuters reported yesterday that the chair of the federation, András Heisler, has asked for a meeting with the PM, but as of publication the Government had not commented on that. Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) has characterized Orbán's speech as "openly racist" and reported that the Prime Minister has been criticized for it by Hungary's liberal opposition.

More than half a million Hungarian Jews were systematically murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis during the Second World War. Currently there are between 75,000 and 100,000 Jewish people living in Hungary, the majority of them in Budapest.

"On the basis of our historical experiences and the stories of our families it is important to speak out against the misleading speeches in Hungarian public life that are prone to inducing misunderstandings," said the Mazsihisz statement. Orbán was in Romania on Saturday when he gave a speech in which he opined that the international left in Western Europe "is using a trick, an ideological ruse:  the allegation - their allegation - that Europe is essentially inhabited by mixed-race nations."

Reuters quoted Orbán as follows: "There is a world in which the European nations are mixed with those who come from countries outside of Europe. That is the mixed-race world."

"However, our world exists where the people of Europe mix among themselves, move around, work and travel. So for example in the Carpathian Basin we are not mixed-race: we are just a mixture of nations living in our European homeland. We have always been fighting for that. We are willing to mix with each other, but we do not want to be mixed-race nations," the PM said.

The concept of different human races, used by the Nazis, among others, is scientifically unsustainable and is a component of racist views of the world. As the DPA explains, this ideology incorrectly ascribes characteristics to entire groups of human beings on the basis of differences that are physical such as skin color, recalling that during the Second World War, the Nazis, together with Hungarian collaborators, deported about half a million Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp

Most of those who were deported died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. For that reason, Orbán was also criticized for yet another part of his speech in which he took aim at a European Commission proposal that each Member State reduce its gas consumption by 15 %. 

"I don't see how they can enforce it, but there is German know-how for this... From a long time ago, I mean," DPA reports the PM as saying in an apparent reference to the Holocaust.

MEP Katalin Cseh of Hungary, a liberal, then translated the PM's remark into English and tweeted: "Yes, that's a joke about gas and Nazi Germany." MEP Alin Mitutsa of Romani reacted to Orbán's speech on Twitter as follows: "Speaking about race or ethnic 'purity' especially in such a mixed region such as Central & Eastern Europe is purely delusional & dangerous."

Reuters noted that the language of the speech apparently had been crafted to absorb the politics of the ultra-right, many members of which have abandoned Hungary's Jobbik opposition party after it toned down its attitudes and lost a large part of the support it has enjoyed from such voters; Orbán had already taken advantage of previous occasions to mention preserving "ethnic homogeneity", to argue fiercely against immigration, and even erected a fence made out of barbed wire on Hungary's southern border to prevent migrants from entering. He has also introduced laws against human rights defenders.

The anti-migrant policy aided Orbán's Fidesz party with winning the elections to parliament in 2018 and 2022, but is has also led to clashes with the European Commission. Orbán has always been a politician of the extreme right, especially since 2015 when Europe experienced an exceptional influx of migrants, and both his Fidesz party and he himself openly use anti-migrant rhetoric, but this is the first time he has so openly and publicly admitted his racism, according to Gazeta Wyborcza, the newspaper of the opposition in Poland.  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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