MINELRES: Fwd: Hungary far right forms "guard" amid Jewish and Roma protests

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Aug 27 10:13:05 2007

Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

Hungary far right forms "guard" amid Jewish and Roma protests

By David Chance and Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A small group of far-right Hungarians formed a
uniformed "guard" unit on Saturday amid calls by Jewish and Roma groups
for it be banned, saying the body sported Nazi-era symbols.

Cheered by 1,000 people in front of the presidential palace, 56 men in
uniforms with red and white insignia, associated by some with the regime
which sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths, swore to
defend Hungary.

The group was formed shortly before the first anniversary on September
17 of violent anti-government protests that followed the leak of a tape
in which Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted he had lied
to win elections.

"The Hungarian Guard has been set up in order to carry out the real
change of regime (from communism) and to rescue Hungarians," Gabor Vona,
leader of the Jobbik party which set up the unit, told the rally.

The World Jewish Congress this week asked Gyurcsany to act against the
guard, which the prime minister, the governing Socialist and Free
Democrat parties and a small right-of-centre parliamentary party have
all condemned.

The failure of the biggest right-of-centre party, Fidesz, to condemn the
group has led to charges that it tacitly supports the far right.

The formation of the guard comes at a time of concern over the rise of
the far right in ex-communist countries following an attack this week on
Indians in what used to be East Germany.

Jewish groups in Hungary have complained of rising anti-Semitism and the
use of symbols like a red-and-white striped flag during anti-government
demonstrations last year.

The flag is similar to one used by the wartime Arrow Cross regime, which
murdered thousands of Jews and deported hundreds of thousands more to
Nazi death camps.

Its supporters say it is a medieval Hungarian flag.

Jobbik, which denies it is anti-Jewish, said on Saturday that thousands
of people had asked to join its guard.

Both Nazi and Communist symbols are banned in Hungary, but there are
vocal far-right groups in many of the nations that emerged from
communism in 1989 and joined the European Union.

Some observers say that with a short history of democracy and a long
history of anti-Semitism in eastern Europe, there is a greater risk of
these groups gaining acceptance than in western Europe.

"If it (the Guard) manages to legitimise itself over the longer term...
more such groups will be formed and it will cause a strong fear in the
public in a (young) democracy which still needs to be developed rather
than challenged," Zoltan Fleck, professor of the sociology of law at
Budapest's ELTE university, told Reuters.


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