Hungary: Radicals protest "Romani crime", Romani people and their allies stand up to them
Reuters reports that several hundred adherents of the radical "Our Fatherland Movement" protested on Tuesday in the town of Törökszentmiklós, Hungary, east of Budapest, against what they called "Romani crime". Local Roma there assembled for a counter-demonstration that was supported by human rights activists and opposition politicians.
During their counter-protest, activists recalled the wave of racially-motivated attacks that swept through the country 10 years ago. Six Romani people died during those attacks and many more suffered serious injury.
The protests this week remained free of violence. The "Our Fatherland Movement" convened the protest in Törökszentmiklós in response to a recent incident in a local bar there.
A fight happened between non-Romani inhabitants and a Romani man, a video recording of which was massively disseminated on social media, including by the chair of the "Our Fatherland Movement", Laszlo Toroczkai, who began to discuss what he termed "gypsy terror" in association with the incident. Part of his protest was meant to be a march through the Romani part of Törökszentmiklós, but that was ultimately banned.
Despite the apprehensions of local Roma, the protests remained non-violent. Toroczkai established the "Our Fatherland Movement" last year after he failed to be elected chair of the Jobbik party, which in the past was infamous for, among other things, its strong anti-Romani position - the more centrist Tamás Sneider was elected instead.
Romani inhabitants of Törökszentmiklós reject the application of the principle of collective blame and see Toroczkai's moves as just an attempt for him to gain visibility ahead of the upcoming EP elections. "No such thing as collective crimes exists. Toroczkai just wants to attract former Jobbik voters," the Romani activist Lajos Balogh said.
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