Leaders of the European Union have been scratching their heads for years about Hungarian strongman, Viktor Orbán’s civil rights abuses, and anti-liberal conduct. This past week, and on the eve of the Hungarian government’s biggest PR show in Montreal, EU leaders, along with some members of the Montreal Hungarian community, are tearing their hair out. Many are wondering, why the Hungarian leader, and his Ambassador in Canada, Bálint Ódor, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
Parallel with the upcoming Hungarian Cultural Festival in Montreal – a million dollar extravaganza financed by the Orbán government – Orbán is holding a national plebiscite, to secure support for his anti-EU, anti-Muslim immigration policies. Orbán is a devoted supporter of Donald Trump’s harshest anti-Muslim propositions, and is the only European leader publicly cheering for Trump in the upcoming US elections. His senior representative in the European Parliament, George Schöpflin, put the icing on his government’s anti-Muslim hate campaign, by suggesting that pig heads should be placed on the fence built by the Orbán government, to keep the Muslim tide at bay.
As if this wasn’t enough of an embarrassment for those who are cooperating with Orbán’s Montreal PR show, the President of Hungary gave one of the nation’s highest cultural awards a few days ago, to the country’s most infamous hate-monger, and anti-Semitic writer, Zsolt Bayer. Bayer is one of the founders of Orbán’s Party, a personal friend of the Prime Minister. His hatred of Jews, Gypsies and Muslims is well documented. For Bayer, Hungary’s Roma, are „animals” Here are some direct quotations from his public writings: „A significant portion of the Gypsies are unfit for coexistence. Not fit to live among human beings. These people are animals and behave like animals. … The Gypsy voids where and when it occurs to him. … The Gypsies wants what he sees. If he doesn’t get it, he takes it and he kills…. From his animal skull only inarticulate sounds come out and the only thing he understands is brute force. Whatever it takes, this must be stopped….If you happen to run over a Gypsy child, step on the gas.”
Tell this to the gentle István Lakatos, a Hungarian born Gypsy living in Montreal, whose wonderful restaurant, the Budapest Roma, is one of the locations for Orbán’s Montreal show.
As for the Jews, Bayer laments that they they were not all buried up to their necks and left to die in the forest of Orgovány, like hundreds, who were massacred there in one of the bloodiest pogroms following the end of World War I. According to Bayer, the Holocaust was caused by the Jews, anti-Semitism in Hungary is justified. To quote: “the mere existence of Jewish journalists in Budapest is grounds enough for our anti-Semitism”.
On hearing about the decoration given to Bayer by the Orbán government, the Simon Wiesenthal Institute issued the following declaration: “For the Hungarian government to take this step less than a year after chairing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance gives credence to the claim that their chairmanship was just a cynical act of political manipulation, while the true face of the Orbán government is revealed in its continued efforts to honor racist and antisemitic figures of Hungary’s past.”
As the curtain rises on Orbán’s Montreal extravaganza, the number of people in Hungary who have returned their state decorations to the regime, in protest against its duplicitous behavior, has topped one hundred. In the Montreal Hungarian community, many are rightly asking – why can’t the Hungarian government practice at home, what it preaches in Canada?
András B. Göllner