Former Hungarian camerawoman Petra László has become the face of anti-immigration efforts in Hungary and throughout Europe. However, the 40-year-old journalist has confessed to regretting her actions.
— Mariann Őry (@otmarianna) September 10, 2015
Last week, the camerawoman came to international attention when footage showed her kicking and tripping Syrian immigrants, including an elderly man carrying a young child. According to AFP, Petra was prompted to speak out by the negative messages about her. She also claims to have received numerous death threats since the videos surfaced.
László reached out to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (as reported by the Associated Press) to tell her side of the story.
“I panicked. I’m not a heartless, child-kicking racist camera-person…As I watch the footage now, it’s like I’m not watching myself. I honestly regret what I have done and take responsibility for it.”
USA Today quoted her as saying that something “snapped inside her,” a defensive instinct brought on by so many Syrians coming toward her.
“With the camera in my hands, I didn’t see who was coming toward me.”
The camerawoman shared that she believed the refugees “were on the attack and [she] had to defend [herself].” Though Petra acknowledged her wrongdoing, the New York Times wrote that anti-immigration supporters in Hungary claimed that “analysis” of the video proved that Petra was innocent.
Though the Hungarian journalist apologized for her actions, not everyone was moved. Some have commented that they refuse to accept the camerawoman’s public apology and expressions of remorse.
— Amr No 2 CC (@Cairo67Unedited) September 11, 2015
Whether Petra László is sincere or not, it hasn’t prevented her behavior from reflecting negatively on Hungary. However, her thinking and violence against the Syrian refugees seems to be primarily reflective of the Islamophobia in the European nation, thinking which some feel is actively encouraged by members of the Hungarian government. Viktor Orba, Hungary’s conservative prime minister, claimed that arriving Muslims were a threat to Europe’s Christianity. If this thinking is reflected in the Hungarian government and their controversial treatment of fleeing Syrian refugees, then the problem may be larger than one camerawoman, whatever her motives.
— CNN (@CNN) September 11, 2015
As for Petra, she is reportedly the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation for “disturbing the peace.” The New York Times notes that the Hungarian camerawoman has already been “found guilty in the court of public opinion”. She was referenced over 20 million times on Twitter. She was also the subject of thousands of negative comments on social media. It may be some time — if ever — before the disgraced journalist can disassociate herself with her on-camera behaviors.
[Image Credit: Screen Grab From YouTube/RT]