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Bayer rejects racism charge

January 9th, 2013

A leading pro-government columnist accuses left-liberal protestors of misrepresenting his position on the Roma, in the wake of the latest knife attack on two young sportsmen in a night club. His editor-in-chief and the owner of Magyar Hírlap promise to be more careful in the future.

Two young sportsmen, a boxer and a wrestler were attacked and stabbed by two young Roma on New Year’s Eve in Szigethalom, ten kilometres south of Budapest. One of the attackers has been arrested, and one of the victims is still in intensive care. In a first reaction to the incident, the far-right Jobbik party said it would stage demonstrations against “Gypsy crime.”  MTK, the club of the two sportsmen condemned racist reactions to what happened and club chairman Tamas Deutsch, a founding member of Fidesz commented “shame on all those who instead of expressing sympathy are voicing anti-Gypsy feelings.” In his first column on the incident, Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer, another founding Fidesz member wrote “A substantial proportion of the Roma population is unfit for …. living among humans. They ought not to… This half of the Gypsy population … is ruining the chances of the other half…” In response, over a thousand left-liberal intellectuals signed a letter calling on Fidesz to expel Bayer from its ranks. Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told ATV, a left-liberal TV station that someone who calls a group of human-beings animals “had no place in any community,” while Tamás Deutsch tweeted that what he had said on behalf of MTK “referred to everyone concerned, including my friend Zsolt Bayer.”

In Tuesday’s Magyar Hirlap, Bayer says he deliberately used provocative language in his first article, because society is facing an explosion and something should be done to prevent that. And also in order to prevent Jobbik from monopolising this volatile issue. “No, I don’t want to exterminate Gypsies, not even a part of them, not even one single Roma,” Bayer writes. “I just want law and order.”

In their “Answer to the attacks”, industrialist Gábor Széles, the owner of Magyar Hírlap and editor-in-chief István Stefka promise to be “even more careful” in refusing to publish writings that “might fuel hate mongering either on the left or on the right.” They suggest that their newspaper is being “slandered by left-liberal forces,” and that Bayer’s column has been misrepresented by critics, but apologise to everyone concerned and to their readers, “if some of Bayer’s thoughts are open to misunderstanding.”

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