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All sides condemn Jobbik MP’s anti-Semitic speech: a day of rare party political unity against racism

November 28th, 2012

Commentators unanimously condemn a speech by Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi, who proposed a “survey of MPs and cabinet members of Jewish descent  who represent a risk to national security”.

The Jobbik MP made his remark in parliament in connection with the Gaza conflict on Monday. State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Zsolt Németh replied that the government had no intention of preparing any such list and that its stance on foreign policy issues did not depend on the ethnic origins of cabinet ministers. LMP MP Katalin Ertsey described on Facebook how she protested to the State Secretary and to Jobbik MP Zoltán Balczó (who chaired the meeting and rang his bell in warning several times while his fellow MP was speaking, but did not interrupt him), as the three of them were leaving the session. She reports Mr Németh as saying to Mr Balczó: “we should do something about that.”

On Parameter, the number one Hungarian website in Slovakia (based in Dunajská Streda), Hungarian political scientist Balázs Böcskei (who is also well known as a First Division football referee), asks why MPs of the democratic opposition parties did not leave the hall in protest against what Mr Gyöngyösi was saying. He points out that a Nazi type subculture is flourishing underground and on the net, and tolerance towards racist speech just provides it a semblance of legitimacy.

On Tuesday morning, the government strongly condemned Mr Gyöngyösi’s speech and assured Hungary’s Jews and all minorities of its readiness to protect them. Similar declarations were issued by President János Áder, and all parliamentary parties, except Jobbik. Mr László Kövér, the Speaker of Parliament decided to submit an amendment to the House Rules to ban so far unspecified forms of hate speech from sessions.  Mr Gyöngyösi, meanwhile, issued a qualified apology. He had only proposed, he said, to draw up a list of dual Hungarian-Israeli citizens in Parliament and in the government, and he asked “our fellow Jewish countrymen to excuse” him for the “misunderstanding”.

On Mandiner, Ákos Gergely Balogh finds the idea utterly unacceptable, even in this rectified version. Why couldn’t one have a double identity and loyalty? – he asks. Hungarians, more than anyone else, should bear that in mind, since masses of ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries have acquired Hungarian citizenship and the few that have applied for it in Slovakia, are being stripped of their Slovak citizenship.

On Tuesday, MPs of the Democratic Coalition as well as Socialist Deputy Speaker István Ujhelyi attended the plenary session with yellow stars on their jackets  in protest against Mr Gyöngyösi’s speech. NGOs held a “yellow star demonstration” in front of Parliament building on Tuesday afternoon.

In a second piece on Tuesday, Mandiner’s Ákos Gergely Balogh finds that gesture tasteless; he believes the MPs are using the symbol of the tragedy and suffering of Hungarian Jewry during World War II for their own political purposes, “as part of a political circus.”

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