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Hungary PM vows to fight anti-Semitism

Hungary PM pledges "zero tolerance" on anti-Semitism, but is criticised for not doing enough against far-right parties.

Last Modified: 06 May 2013 05:54
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Hungary's prime minister told an international assembly of Jews that his government has declared "zero
tolerance" on anti-Semitism, but those gathered said he has failed to confront the country's largest far-right party.

Addressing the opening session of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), on Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged that anti-Semitism was on the rise both in Europe and Hungary, attributing it partly to the economic crisis affecting the region.

"Anti-Semitism is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," Orban told about 600 delegates at the meeting, adding that it was his government's "moral duty to declare zero tolerance on anti-Semitism."

While attendees applauded some parts of Orban's speech on Sunday, the WJC also expressed its disappointment that he had not specifically talked about the country's third biggest political force, the far-right Jobbik party.

"The prime minister did not confront the true nature of the problem, the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobbik party in particular," the WJC said in a statement.

"We regret that Mr Orban did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe."

Leaders of the far-right Hungarian party accused Israelis of plotting to buy up the country amid protests by several hundred nationalists on the eve of the meeting in Budapest.

Senior figures from the opposition Jobbik party, which has 43 seats in the 386-member parliament, said that Israeli President Shimon Peres had praised Jews for buying property in Hungary.

They said the WJC had decided to hold its four-yearly gathering in Budapest to shame the Hungarian people.

The WJC, which normally holds its worldwide assembly in Jerusalem, said it chose Hungary this time to highlight the rise of far-right groups and anti-Semitism in Europe. More than half a million Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

"The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale," Gabor Vona, Jobbik chairman, told the rally near the neo-Gothic parliament along the Danube River.

Marton Gyongyosi, a Jobbik member of parliament, told the crowd: "Our country has become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonisation while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras."

Michael Thaidigsmann, WJC spokesman, said the public nature of the protest was troubling.

"We find it a worrying sign that these people express their anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli ideology in such a public way," he said.

Orban had ordered the rally to be banned, but a court on Friday ruled police had overstepped their authority in trying to block it.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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