Hungarians denounce anti-semitism after MP calls for list
Parties unite ... thousands of people attend a mass demonstration against Nazism in front of the Parliament building in Budapest. Photo: AP
BUDAPEST: Thousands of Hungarians packed the square in front of parliament in Budapest on Sunday in a rare show of political unity against anti-semitism.
The parliamentary leader of the ruling party, Antal Rogan, the head of the opposition Socialists, Attila Mesterhazy, and the former premier Gordon Bajnai shared the stage in denouncing the call of a nationalist MP to draw up a list of Jewish legislators and government members who pose a ''national security risk''.
The speakers said last week's demand by Marton Gyongyosi, a member of the Jobbik radical nationalist party, echoed the Holocaust, when more than 500,000 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were murdered.
The nation had learnt from history and knew that any ''national security risk is posed precisely by those who want to draw up such a list'' based on ethnicity, said Mr Bajnai, who led a technocratic government for a year until 2010. He said the Holocaust was a ''national tragedy'' and ''fratricide''.
The protest was a ''grand coalition created to destroy Jobbik'', the party's president, Gabor Vona, said after the demonstration. Earlier, Jobbik said the ''yellow-star protest is defiling the first Sunday of Advent''.
Mr Gyongyosi qualified his original demand a day after making it, saying such a list was important ''only in the case of dual citizens'' of Israel and Hungary.
Jobbik is the second-largest opposition party, with 9 per cent backing in November opinion polls, trailing the ruling Fidesz and the opposition Socialist parties, which had 19 per cent and 14 per cent support respectively.
Earlier this year the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, weathered criticism from Jewish groups who said the government and ruling party were sending mixed messages amid a flurry of anti-semitic attacks and attempts to rehabilitate politicians and writers associated with the Holocaust.
''We can't accept that after all that happened in central Europe and Hungary over the past 100 years there are still people who haven't learnt anything,'' Mr Rogan said of Mr Gyongyosi.