BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned a Jobbik lawmaker’s call to create a list of Jewish politicians a day after thousands demonstrated in Budapest to protest the anti-Semitism of the far-right party.
“Last week sentences were uttered in parliament which are unworthy of Hungary,” Orban said during a parliament session on Monday. “I rejected this call on behalf of the government and I would like you to know that as long as I am standing in this place, no one in Hungary can be hurt or discriminated against because of their faith, conviction or ancestry.”
Orban’s denunciation and Sunday’s demonstration by an estimated 10,000 protesters came in the wake of a call last week by Marton Gyongyosi to create a registry of Hungarian lawmakers and members of the Hungarian cabinet of Jewish origin. Gyongyosi spoke during a Nov. 26 parliamentary debate on Israel’s military operations against escalated terrorist bombings from the Gaza Strip.
Among the estimated protesters in attendance at Sunday’s demonstration were leaders of Hungarian Jewish organizations, which organized the protest with other civic groups. Demonstrators carried signs that read, “I am not fascist, but Hungarian,” “Jobbik is the biggest national security threat to Hungary” and “Racism is equal to Jobbik!” Some Holocaust survivors protested with a sign that read, “We already experienced this, and once was enough!”
Ilan Mor, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, participated in the demonstration, as did the ambassadors from the United States and Sweden.
Jobbik won 17 percent of the votes in 2010 during the latest general elections. According to recent polls, some 21 percent of the Hungarian population over the age of 15 are Jobbik sympathizers.
The country’s largest opposition party, the Hungarian Socialist Party, or MSZP, called for a boycott of Jobbik. MSZP said it would boycott parliamentary sessions in which representatives of Jobbik are present.
Half a million Hungarian Jews were deported and killed in Auschwitz during the summer of 1944, and more than 100,000 Jews were killed in Hungary during the 1940s by Hungarian allies of the German Nazis.
On Monday, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom condemned Gyongyosi’s call of last week.
“As the daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, this statement by the leader of a political party and sitting member of parliament is deeply concerning,” said USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of the late US Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). “The listing of Jews in Hungary brings up memories of the darkest days of Nazism, when hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed or deported to their death. There is no place for such talk in civilized societies.”