The international indignation over the remarks of Márton Gyöngyösi (Jobbik) in the Hungarian Parliament concerning people of Jewish extraction posing a threat to national security prompted many individuals and organizations to raise their voices. Among them Hungarians and Hungarian organizations in North America. I will publish here two such protests.
The first is a bipartisan document. The organizers were hoping to get support from not only the so-called “left” side of the political spectrum but also from the “right.” These two sides normally don’t see eye to eye, but in this case the two groups came together and joined hands in protest. A fair number of the signatories came from Béla Lipták’s Hungarian Lobby.
The letter was first sent to MTI which for some strange reason refused to publish it. Perhaps they didn’t realize that the letter had bipartisan support. On the other hand, the pro-government Heti Válasz first published the letter with only a partial list of the signers and a few hours later they came out with the complete list. It is possible that Heti Válasz received its partial list from the Hungarian Lobby and therefore found it more acceptable than if it had come from some suspicious liberal source.
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We the undersigned Hungarians and Hungarian speakers living in the United States and Canada without any regard to political convictions most strenuously object to the racist remarks of Márton Gyöngyösi, Jobbik member of parliament, on November 26. We also take exception to what happened in the chamber where the legislators present listened to Gyöngyösi’s anti-Semitic remarks without so much as a murmur. We would like to remind the members of parliament that the honor of Hungary is at stake; we don’t want to be ashamed of our country of birth.
We ask you and your fellow parliamentarians to condemn all types of racism more forcefully than you have done in the past.
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STATEMENT OF THE CANADIAN – HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC CHARTER CONCERNING THE RACIST COMMENTS OF MR. MÁRTON GYÖNGYÖSI, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT’S FOREIGN RELATION’S COMMITTEE
Montreal, November 29, 2012
On Monday, November 26, 2012, the co-chairman of the Hungarian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, Márton Gyöngyösi, stood up in Parliament and asked the right-wing government of Viktor Orbán to compile a list of those members of the government and of Parliament who are of Jewish ancestry. In the view of this prominent Hungarian parliamentarian, the presence of Jews in Parliament and the government pose a threat to Hungary’s national security.
The last time such blatantly racist statements were heard in Hungary’s Parliament was during the darkest days of the Holocaust, during the Regency of Admiral Nicholas Horthy, when some 500,000 Jews were rounded up by the country’s police forces, stripped of all their earthly possessions, crammed into railway carriages used for the transport of animals, and shipped off to be slaughtered in Auschwitz. What is astonishing about Mr Gyöngyösi’s statement is not so much the content. Hungarian mass media is full of such hate-mongering and the government’s media watchdog agency, the National Media Council, does absolutely nothing to dampen such shameful rhetoric. It spends most of its time persecuting those media outlets that do not reflect the Orbán government’s nationalistic, often anti-European outlook on public affairs. As the US Anti-Defamation League’s 2012 study has shown, Anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hungary’s mass media and in public discourse increased dramatically after Mr Orbán came to power in 2010. Mr Gyöngyösi’s parliamentary outburst is only the latest in a mounting din, and testimony to the Orbán regime’s blindness to this accelerating decay in Hungary’s democratic fiber.
The truly astonishing aspect of the Deputy Chairman’s hate rhetoric is that it was listened to without any protest by Hungarian MP’s. Mr Gyöngyösi was not told to retract his hateful words by the sitting Chairman of the House. He wasn’t interrupted or shouted down for his disgraceful conduct. His Party leader patted him on the back for a job well done. Mr Gyöngyösi still sits proudly as a member of parliament and deputy chair of the country’s foreign relations committee, and will likely remain in his post as long as his racist, anti-democratic Party, Jobbik, maintains its standing as the second largest political party in Hungary’s Parliament. The most dismaying thing about this Anti-Semitic outburst is not the content but the place where it was articulated. What’s more, it’s not so much the act of an individual opposition member in Hungary’s Parliament that causes us to raise our voice in protest, but the fact that one of the North Atlantic Treaty organization’s member states, a European Union member state, is led by a government that is restoring a political culture that fosters such uncivilized manifestations. Rather than fighting against the erosion of democratic principles, the Orbán government is bent on restoring the political values that held sway in Hungary under the rule of Adolf Hitler’s ally, Admiral Horthy. Mr Gyöngyösi’s outburst is a sad step along this backward march in time.
The Board of Directors of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter takes this opportunity to raise its voice in protest against the anti-democratic, authoritarian and often blatantly racist manifestations that are rapidly gaining ground in Hungary under Viktor Orbán’s governance. The anti-semitic outburst by the deputy-head of the Parliament’s Foreign Relation’s Committee is not an isolated incident, but part of a general malaise against which such steadfast European democrats as Václav Havel have warned: “In just 20 years after communism collapsed, Hungary’s government, though elected democratically, is misusing its legislative majority to methodically dismantle democracy’s checks and balances, to remove constitutional constraints, and to subordinate to the will of the ruling party all branches of power, independent institutions and the media” The spread of anti-democratic manifestations within one of the European Union’s member states strikes at the security of all those nations that are members of the North Atlantic Alliance. To fight against the spread of autocracy and racial intolerance is not only in the interest of Hungarians, but all citizens, on both sides of the Atlantic. Tolerance towards such rogue governments as Viktor Orbán’s sends other would be autocrats the message that the road is open towards authoritarianism.
The Canadian – Hungarian Democratic Charter was launched on the 55th anniversary of Hungary’s heroic rebellion against the old, Soviet led communist dictatorship in response to the appeals of democracy’s friends inside and outside the borders of Hungary. We, like our Hungarian associates, are a non-partisan civil rights advocacy group, not affiliated with any political party. Our purpose is to give encouragement and support to the defenders of universal democratic principles in Hungary and around the world, to help defend the dignity of our fellow human beings against the revival of ethnic and racially motivated hatred. Our central mission is to halt the spread of autocratic governance in Central and Eastern Europe.
Dr. András B. Göllner, Founder and International Spokesperson.
Emeritus Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Concordia University, Montreal, Que
Dr. Christopher Adam, Founder and Spokesperson.
Lecturer, Department of History, Carleton University,Ottawa, Ont.
Dr. Éva Balogh, Founder and Spokesperson.
Former Professor of History and Dean of Morse College at Yale University (Retired) New Haven, Conn.
Dr. Stevan Harnad. Founder and Spokesperson. Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science at Univerité du Quebec á Montreal. QC
Prof. Peter W. Klein, Founder and Spokesperson.
Director, School of Journalism, University of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC.
Dr. Imre Szeman, Founder and Spokesperson.
Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies, and Sociology, University of Alberta.
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And finally, András Arató, chairman of the board of Klubrádió, sent me this communiqué explaining what happened to the two stations of Klubrádió outside of Budapest.
Press Release on the Media Council’s attacks on the freedom of the press
The Media Council’s series of decisions violating the principle of the rule of law is a threat to the freedom of the press
Klubrádió’s press release concerning the latest letter issued by the Media Council’s press office claiming that the authorities are doing whatever they can to support the radio’s uninterrupted operation
We did not ask for the Media Council’s sympathy about the tender concerning the Esztergom and Tatabánya coverage area in which no winner had been declared. The only reason why this tender was unsuccessful is that the authority had issued an unprofessional call for tenders, as confirmed by the Budapest High Court of Appeal. It was the Media Council’s negligence but it is Klubrádió that pays the price. According to the judgment of the Court, the Media Council’s call for proposals had been so irrational and unprofessional that it was impossible to submit a proposal that met the applicable formal requirements. As a result, it is the Media Council’s duty to mitigate the damage caused and issue a temporary license for broadcasting in the two towns.
According to the Media Council’s press release, the Council will do whatever they can to make uninterrupted operation possible for Klubrádió, and they intend to prove this by issuing another 60-day extension (the twelfth of such extensions). However, this statement contradicts the facts as judgment after judgment confirms that that the authority’s procedures have been illegal and the Council refuses to comply with the orders of the court. The Council does not abide by the law, it is a law unto itself.
And the statement that the “Media Council continuously offers cooperation to Klubrádió” is utterly false. The truth is that it does not show any willingness to cooperate. They refused to answer our proposals for solutions and did not react to our requests for negotiation.
With the suspension of the operation of our Esztergom and Tatabánya broadcasting stations, we have made it possible for the Media Council to take immediate steps. The Media Council should allow us to take over the Budapest frequency permanently and should issue a new tender for the two country frequencies that meets the applicable professional and moral requirements. Stop causing more harm!
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And finally, a funny (not so funny?) story from the Hungarian parliament that has a great deal to do with Jobbik’s attacks on Jews and on Israel. Israeli-Hungarian dual citizenship is very much on the minds of Jobbik MPs. A few days ago one of the loudest anti-Semites in the group, Előd Novák, inquired from the commissioner in charge of personal data whether members of parliament must reveal whether they hold dual citizenship. The commissioner explained that this kind of information must be made public if someone inquires. So, Novák went into action, and it seems that he wrote to all his fellow members of parliament and inquired about their citizenship status. Undersecretary Christian Democrat Bence Rétvári naturally obliged and assured the Jobbik MP that he was a true Hungarian with only one bona fide citizenship. Not so, the whimsical Katalin Ertsey (LMP) who answered thus:
At dawn this morning I found an e-mail from Előd Novák who wanted to find out whether I possess a dual citizenship or not. I answered him honestly. Here is my answer: “It is a well known fact that I am an Israeli-Piréz* citizen. I purchased my Hungarian citizenship shortly before I became a member of parliament. Not only is my citizenship Israeli-Piréz but I completely identify with both Jewish and Piréz interests, which means hatred of Hungarians. I’m glad that miserable little Nazis like you can busy themselves with research of my national identity.
But let me ask you something. I have been wanting to ask you this for a long time since you seem to have a fondness for bringing up topics concerning homosexuality, “are you a latent homosexual”?
Novák doesn’t seem to have a good sense of humor. He called on Katalin Ertsey to resign from her position as a member of parliament because of her dual citizenship.
*A few years ago a group of sociologists did a study about Hungarian xenophobia and asked all sorts of questions regarding people’s attitude toward certain ethnic groups. They smuggled the nonexistent “Pirézes” onto the list. The respondents hated the Pirézes as well.