Around 10,000 people attended an anti-Nazi rally in Hungary on Sunday to protest against a far-right politician’s call to screen Jews for national security reasons.
Organized by Jewish and civil rights groups, the rally was supported by politicians from both opposition parties and the government.
The Washington Post reports that the rally took place outside the Hungarian parliament in Lajos Kossuth Square.
On Monday, Marton Gyongyosi of the far-right Jobbik party publicly stated that it was time to “assess … how many people of Jewish origin there are here, and especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, who represent a certain national security risk.”
Gyongyosi made his remarks during a November 26 parliamentary debate on Israel’s military operation in the Gaza strip after increased terrorist bombings.
Although Gyongyosi later apologized to “our Jewish compatriots” for his words, many regard it as an expedient one as he qualified it, saying Hungary needed to be wary of “Zionist Israel and those serving it also from here.”
Antal Rogan, leader of the governing Fidesz party, told the crowd:
“I came because in this situation I cannot stay quiet. Hungary defends its citizens.”
Socialist Party chairman Attila Mesterhazy has stated that his party will boycott Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee as long as Gyongyosi remained its vice chairman.
Mesterhazy also called on Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to deal with the issue in Parliament next week.
In the face of widespread condemnation of Mesterhazy, Jobbik president Gabor Vona stuck to a defensive line.
Vona said the protest was part of an “artificially induced campaign of lies” intended to distract attention away from Hungary’s economic problems and insisted certain interests just wanted to “destroy” Jobbik.
Following Gyongyosi’s remarks in parliament, another member of the Jobbik party demanded the resignation of a member of parliament because she has Israeli citizenship.
On November 29, Elod Novak said during a news conference that Katalin Ertsey of the opposition LMP Party should step down because she had an Israeli passport as well as a Hungarian one.
Novak was quoted as saying, “Israel has more deputies in the Hungarian Parliament than they have in the Israeli Knesset,” and that this was the reason for pro-Israel decision-making in the Hungarian Parliament.
Novak later sent an email to all parliamentary deputies on November 28 demanding that they make any dual citizenship public.
The Anti-Defamation League has called Jobbik an “overtly anti-Semitic party.”