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Ákos Kertész seeks asylum in Canada

March 7th, 2012

A left-wing commentator believes that Ákos Kertész, a Hungarian writer who has bitterly criticised Hungary and its right-wing parties, had to leave the country as a result of fierce verbal and physical attacks from the right-wing. He predicts that Kertész’s decision will be celebrated both by the governing centre-right parties and by radical groups. A pro-government commentator regrets Kertész’s decision, and hopes that he will find peace in Canada.

A comment by Ákos Kertész in September 2011 that “Hungarians are genetically servile” (see BudaPost September 7, 2011), provoked a storm of controversy, in which the author was also criticised by people on the left. Although Kertész withdrew his comment, the right wing majority on the Budapest City Council stripped him of his honorary citizenship (see BudaPost September 23, 2011). On March 3, Kertész announced that he would leave the country and apply for political asylum in Canada. The 80 year old writer claims that he has been the target of verbal and physical insults in the past months, and he felt that his life was in danger. Kertész believes that the governing parties launched a media campaign against him, which encouraged radical right-wing groups to physically threaten him in the street.

Fidesz and Jobbik can celebrate having successfully chased Ákos Kertész out of Hungary,” Iván Andrassew contends. The left-wing commentator suggests Kertész’s fate proves that his harsh criticism was indeed valid, and that those right-wing politicians and intellectuals who attacked him should be seen as political servants of the governing Fidesz party.

It is hard to say anything, but to keep silent would also be impossible,” writes László Kiss in Magyar Hírlap. But Kertész’s offensive words and his decision to leave the country should not provoke a hasty reaction, such as the withdrawal of his literary Kossuth Prize, the right-wing columnist cautions. In Kiss’s view the case shows just how deep the moral crisis of the country is: one cannot easily discern who are the victims and who the culprits.

“Nothing can be done with Ákos Kertész. Those who like his books should keep on reading him. … And let us also hope that Kertész, who is one of the ten million Hungarians, will find his place in the world.”

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