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Tilting at windmills

July 2nd, 2011

Though the initial hysteria about the new Hungarian media law has long subsided, fearmongers still maintain that free speech in Hungary is threatened by what they see as a far-right government, András Stumpf reports from a Bonn conference.

“The debates around the Hungarian media law still have some repercussions,” Stumpf writes in Heti Válasz, reporting from the Global Media Forum conference held in Bonn.

Stumpf was prepared to hear lectures on the allegedly precarious state of press freedom in Hungary. To his surprise, the keynote speaker Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, who led criticism of the Hungarian media law early this year, did not even mention Hungary in her presentation on challenges to the freedom of press in the Western world.

But media experts recall the fierce debate around the new law, Stumpf notes. In coffee breaks he found himself in peculiar situations. “It was an odd feeling to be approached by colleagues from Afghanistan and Pakistan, when they found out that I came from Hungary, to be asked whether I can exercise my freedom as a journalist.”

In one of the presentations in the panel on anti-Semitism and racism, a Dutch expert identified Fidesz as a far-right populist party, without detailing why he found such a label appropriate.

“If that is their targeting accuracy, the anti-racist warriors are bound to lose their battle. It is one thing to tilt at windmills, another to defeat them.”

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