Fidesz politician physically assaults journalist at anti-Soros hate-fest

During one of many party forums in Budapest, where National Economy Minister Mihály Varga and National Defence Minister István Simicskó were tasked with explaining the dangers of “the Soros network,” under a screen that read “let’s stand up for Hungary” and an unflattering photo of George Soros, a journalist was assaulted by a local Fidesz politician.

Júlia Halász of the liberal website was reporting on the anti-Soros forum–one of 130 such forums organized by Fidesz across the country as part of the “Stop Brussels” national consultation. The forum in question was in Budapest’s 11th District, at Saint Imre (Saint Emeric) Secondary School.

“I sat down in the room and began producing footage, at which point three young men told me to leave, as I cannot record the event without registration. Despite asking them who they were, the young men would not respond. Instead municipal councillor Attila Ludányi promised to introduce me to the organizer, László Szabó,” wrote Ms. Halász. László Szabó is the Fidesz deputy chief of staff in the district.

“Szabó told me that I could not record the event, but that I could stay and listen. As such, I went back in the room and sat down in the second row. I no longer recorded the event with my camera, but because numerous people were taking photos with their cell phones around me, I used my mobile to take 3-4 photos too,” Ms. Halász explained.

Then, she received a phone call and went out into the corridor to take the call.

“László Szabó followed me out into the hallway and he closed the door to the room, after which he stopped behind me in a threatening manner. When I finished my call, he informed me that I could not return to the room. I explained to him that I had left inside my tripod and other equipment. At this point he attacked me, tore from my hands my cell phone and aggressively demanded that I leave the building. He accused me of having produced a video recording with my camera. This was not true, so I asked that we immediately clear this up in the presence of the police. After he refused to return my phone and began physically pushing me around, I started yelling for help,” recounted Ms. Halász.

Tellingly of the state of affairs in Hungary, nobody came to the young woman’s aid, but instead several Fidesz supporters began attacking her as well.

“Szabó grabbed me by the arm and dragged my down the stairs. He then continued to threaten me outside the building,” she added.

At this point, several Fidesz supporters and representatives joined Mr. Szabó, who forcibly deleted the photos from the journalist’s phones. When Ms. Halász told Mr. Szabó that the police were on their way, he deleted the photos and returned into the building.

National Economy Minister Mihály Varga, traditionally one of the more moderate people in the regime, tried to save face by suggesting that his people would return to Ms. Halász her equipment and that he would make himself available to her for an exclusive interview.

When the police arrived, nobody at the Fidesz event was willing to identify the man who had attacked Ms. Halász–and the Fidesz politician had meanwhile fled using a back door.

When contacted the Ministry of Defence to comment on the incident, the Ministry issued a statement saying that it was not involved in the organization of the event and offered no comment.

This is Hungary in 2017–a country at the heart of the European Union, bankrolled by the EU, where governing party politicians physically attack journalists with impunity. And when police come to investigate, it turns out that nobody saw anything at all.

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