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Zsolt Bayer awarded the Knight’s Cross

August 23rd, 2016

The leading left-wing daily accuses the government of institutionalizing racist language by rewarding the controversial journalist Zsolt Bayer with one of Hungary’s highest state orders. A conservative columnist, on the other hand, ridicules a protest by a growing number of former nominees who have returned their awards.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer, who is known for his highly polemic and explicit articles, was awarded the King’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, one of Hungary’s highest state orders, which is awarded to up to 280 individuals a year. According to the Ministry of Human Resources, Bayer received the honour for his articles discussing the plight of Hungarians in Transylvania and the persecution of Gulag prisoners. The pro-government columnist has often been accused of anti-Semitism and racism (see BudaPost through 2011). By Monday evening, 40 previous former recipients have returned their medals in protest against Bayer’s nomination.

Népszabadság’s editor-in-chief András Murányi contends that the reward of Zsolt Bayer is either a mistake or the acknowledgement by the government that it shares what Murányi considers Bayer’s racist ideology. The left-wing columnist suggests that by rewarding Bayer for his articles on the Gulag prisoners and Hungarians in Transylvania, the government is acquitting him of blame for his other, racist pieces. Unless the government withdraws Bayer’s award, it will give an official endorsement to anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsy rhetoric, Murányi believes.

In Mandiner, Gellért Rajcsányi thinks that those former nominees who return their awards are motivated by resentment. The conservative columnist think that those intellectuals who protest against Bayer’s medal want to prove their moral superiority and compensate for the loss of their authority through what Rajcsányi considers an hysterical and pretentious overreaction.

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