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Prime minister dusts off anti-terror bill

March 25th, 2016

Left-liberal commentators accuse the government of exploiting the Brussels terror attacks for power and propaganda benefits.

In a furious comment on Kettős Mérce, András Jámbor calls the Prime Minister’s attempt to re-introduce the ’emergency state of terror’ bill an outrageous move which does not serve national security. He recalls that the controversial draft constitutional amendment failed to garner the necessary support in Parliament only a few weeks ago.

On Wednesday, one day after the Brussels bombings,, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán instructed Interior Minister Sándor Pintér to revive all Fidesz proposals aimed at fighting terrorism, including the draft amendment. The latter would enable the government of the day to declare an ’emergency state of terror’ in case it considers that the country faces an imminent terrorist threat. During this state of emergency the executive would have the right, among others, to govern by decree, order curfews, ban larger gatherings, limit and influence media content and deploy the army if police forces are deemed insufficient for the job. The bill has been stalled due to opposition unease over the unlimited power it would give the government. Opposition parties might agree to authorise the use of the military and other measures strictly related to combatting terror, but not all the measures envisaged (See BudaPost, February 3). 

The state’s intention to reinforce the protection of its citizens after such a terror attack is understandable and natural, the left-liberal pundit concedes, but he accuses the PM of pursuing primarily propaganda purposes ‘over the dead bodies of the victims in Brussels’. Jámbor reminds readers that instead of accepting the modifications urged by the opposition parties – which aimed to bring the amendment more in line with the French emergency law – Fidesz put the bill in deep-freeze until, as the author suggests, the next terror attack. 

Népszabadság’s front page editorial calls the government’s moves have all the markings of business’ ‘political marketing’ and warns that it should not tinker with the public’s sense of security, or play with our fears and anxieties. The left-liberal paper also calls some of these measures utterly ridiculous, especially a photo posted on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page depicting him on the morning after the Brussels attacks in an operational meeting with his security cabinet and high-ranking military and police officers.

Vastagbőr blog, another popular left-liberal media outlet, promptly ridiculed the photo on its Facebook page drawing attention to the fact that all people around the table use pens and paper instead of notebooks and smart phones – a sign of digital illiteracy, the post implies. Vastagbőr in turn was made fun of by 888.hu, a pro-government site, whose author called the post stupid, noting that smart phones are of course not allowed in such high-level meetings, because such devices can be used for illicit surveillance.

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