Hungary: Ultra-right protests World Jewish Congress in Budapest
Experts say Jewish people in Hungary are facing a rising anti-Semitism spreading from right-wing extremist groups to the core of society. Representatives of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) gave that as the reason they decided to hold their quadrennial meeting, which began yesterday, in Budapest.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán opened the three-day event yesterday by condemning anti-Semitism. Wire services reported that one day earlier, representatives of the right-wing Jobbik party, which is seated in parliament, took to the street charging the WJC with trying to “buy” Hungary.
The WJC convenes once every four years, almost always in Jerusalem. However, this time the current societal situation in Hungary inspired members of the organization to hold their first-ever meeting in a country of Central and Eastern Europe.
"We want the approximately 100 000 Jewish people living in Hungary to feel supported, we want to show them they are not alone,” WJC Deputy Secretary-General Maram Stern told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Speaking during the opening of the meeting, US entrepreneur Ronald Lauder, who is the WJC president, called on Prime Minister Orbán to stand up to the “forces of darkness” preaching anti-Semitic and anti-Romani slogans.
Orbán later acknowledged that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and Hungary and declared zero tolerance for it. "It is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” the Associated Press reports him as saying.
Representatives of Jobbik (which holds 43 seats in the 386-seat parliament, making it the third-strongest party in Hungary) see fishy motivations behind the WJC meeting. On Saturday several hundred party members and sympathizers shouted slogans charging Israel with conspiring to buy all of Hungary.
Orbán, whose Fidesz party holds a constitutional majority in parliament, tried to ban the demonstration, but a court decided that the police did not have the right to do so. WJC representatives said it was alarming that the anti-Semitic protest was able to be held legally and publicly.
Jewish people comprise roughly one percent of Hungary’s population of 10 million. Jobbik and its banned militant offshoot, the Hungarian National Guard, frequently make open statements against Jews. One of their MPs, for example, demanded the creation of a list of Jewish persons in public office and called them a potential security threat.
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