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December 7, 2021



Newsweek: Trump and other Western leaders are legitimizing Hungarian PM's anti-Roma campaign, according to human rights activists

13.3.2020 16:18
Zeljko Jovanovic (FOTO: ERIAC)
Zeljko Jovanovic (FOTO: ERIAC) reports that human rights activists are warning that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is acting in ways that could spark violence against Romani people there and that the Government's ongoing anti-Roma campaign could have such consequences. Last month a march to protest the situation was attended by more than 2 000 people, mainly Romani people and activists dedicated to Romani issues, in Budapest.

The march was a response to the PM refusing to obey a court order instructing the Hungarian state to pay compensation to Romani children who were unlawfully segregated in school in the town of Gyöngyöspata. It has taken more than a decade to reach a resolution in the matter.

The PM says he does not want the Hungarian state to disburse any money to anybody who is Romani unless they "work for it". Instead of paying compensation, the PM claims to be offering training programs to the people affected.

The Hungarian Supreme Court will be the next instance to hand down a definitive judgment in the case. Newsweek recounts how the PM has always done all he can to increase his popularity by uniting his voters around nationalism.

The PM constantly rails against any kind of external influence, such as migrants, asylum-seekers, or the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Fund. Orbán frequently plays the "Romani card" in this way to win voters over.

Zeljko Jovanovic, director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office, tells Newsweek that Orbán is seeking to bolster his popularity by attacking an unpopular minority while undermining the power of the courts. The Hungarian PM and his Fidesz party are exploiting anti-Roma racism to "demolish" democratic control, Jovanovic argues.

Orbán is also receiving support from abroad. US President Donald Trump granted the Hungarian PM a coveted White House visit last year and expressed appreciation for him as a "tremendous" leader who is "respected all over Europe," Newsweek reports.

According to Péter Krekó, director of the Hungarian association Political Capital, such visits boost Orban's image as a statesman. "It definitely helps him," Krekó tells Newsweek.

A Fidesz party spokesperson is blaming "socialists and liberals" in past governments for issues around Roma integration in Hungary and is alleging the segregated Roma would be "better off" if they took the training Orbán is proposing rather than financial compensation. Jovanovic argues that Orban's nationalism and anti-Roma policies are actually inspiring far-right terrorism in Hungary, a phenomenon that is on the rise across Europe and North America.


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