A Hungarian journalist known for making antisemitic and racist comments was a featured speaker at a Friday gathering in the Hungarian capital Budapest of prominent conservatives from the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Zsolt Bayer, who according to The Guardian has called Jews “stinking excrement,” referred to Roma as “animals” and used racial epithets to describe Black people, took the stage on the second day of the American Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, as it was held in Europe for the first time.
The two-day conference featured speeches from former US president Donald Trump; Fox News host Tucker Carlson; Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows; and Republican lawmakers from Florida and Maryland.
Bayer is a co-founder of the ruling Fidesz party and is said to be close to Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the star speaker at CPAC. He has long angered Jews and others with his articles and op-eds in right-wing publications.
In 2011, Bayar used the phrase “stinking excrement” to refer generically to Jews in England, according to The Guardian.
Two years later, writing about a New Year’s Eve bar fight in which several people were seriously injured and some of the attackers were identified as Roma, Bayer wrote: “A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals and they behave like animals.”
In a November 2015 column about the migrant crisis and extremism, Bayer said all Muslims older than 14 were “potential murderers.”
Bayer was distinguished with the Knight’s Cross in 2016 for his writings about the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, the fates of Hungarian prisoners in the Soviet Gulag prison system and for his “exemplary journalistic activities.”
The conference reflects a deepening of ties between the American right-wing and the autocratic government of Orban. The burgeoning alliance with Orban has led some US commentators to warn of American conservatives allegedly embracing anti-democratic tactics.
During his 12 years in power, Orban has generated controversy in the European Union for rolling back democratic institutions under what he calls an “illiberal democracy,” but garnered the admiration of some segments of the American right for his tough stance on immigration and LGBTQ issues and his rejection of liberal pluralism.
Delivering the opening address of the two-day conference on Thursday, Orban called Hungary “the bastion of conservative Christian values in Europe,” and urged US conservatives to defeat “the dominance of progressive liberals in public life” as he said he had done in Hungary.
The conference is the American political right’s latest embrace of Orban, whom Trump has lavished with praise. Trump — described by aides as being particularly enamored with dictators and authoritarian leaders during his time in office — endorsed Orban’s bid for reelection and urged Hungarian voters to give him another term.
Orban’s party won Hungary’s general election in April, and the prime minister retained his office.
The European Union and human rights organizations have expressed concern over recent Hungarian policies seen as limiting the rights of LGBTQ people, something Orban described Thursday as “gender madness.”
Hungary also faces financial penalties from the EU for alleged rule-of-law violations, including rolling back judicial independence and media freedom, and failing to adequately tackle corruption.
CPAC in recent years has expanded its footprint beyond its annual gathering of conservative activists and politicians in the US, with events in Australia, Brazil, Japan and South Korea. It plans to hold conferences in Brazil, Israel, Japan and Mexico later this year.