Hungary’s government media discredits mayor of Cserdi, László Bogdán

This is a case study of Hungary’s government sponsored “mob journalism.” Within weeks the celebrated mayor László Bogdán, Hungary’s successful Roma leader, has become an enemy of the people.

(from left) Mr. András Siewert, Ms. Brigitta Siklósi of Migration Aid and Mayor Bogdán.

David Kostelancik, the top U.S. diplomat in Hungary has raised concerns about disappearing independent media outlets. He has said that the remaining independent media “face pressure and intimidation.” “Government allies have steadily acquired control and influence over the media market without objection from the regulatory body designed to prevent monopolies.” It seems that journalists at publications run by the allies of Prime Minister Orbán are banned from publishing articles critical of the government and must participate in campaigns to discredit the “enemies” of the regime.

Formerly László Bogdán, the Roma mayor of Cserdi was the “darling” of the government. A couple of months ago Hungarian diplomats brought him to New York to introduce him at the United Nations. Ms. Katalin Bogyay, Hungary’s UN representative, talked about the “miracle of Cserdi” and Bogdán’s “great initiatives for social inclusion.” Representatives of Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe were excited to hear about the Hungarian success story. Mr. Ferenc Kumin, Consul General in New York declared Mr. Bogdán his best friend and had “lots of fun” eating “cigány lecsó” (Gypsy ratatouille) in New York, prepared by Bogdán himself.

Ambassador Katalin Bogyay and Mayor Bogdán (right) in the UN.

Ambassador Katalin Bogyay and Mayor Bogdán with country representatives in the UN.

Everything changed when recently Mayor Bogdán announced that he would welcome refugee families to vacation in his village and that he would be happy to work with Migration Aid. This offer is in stark opposition to PM Orbán’s anti-refugee campaign. Not surprisingly Mayor Bogdán was soon in deep trouble. (Read HFP report about Mayor Bogdán.)

Hungarian outlets reported that Mayor Bogdán was physically assaulted and he has said that it is dangerous for him to walk the streets alone. Pro-government media sources have started a vicious campaign, declared that Mayor Bogdán is “probably a liar” (read 888 here) and reported that “something is not right” with Bogdán’s stories. (Read Index here.) Ambassadors Kumin and Bogyay have abandoned their friend; they are not coming to his defense.

Mayor Bogdán and Consul General Ferenc Kunim (right) – friendly cooking in New York.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Bogdán will resign and we won’t hear about the “miracle of Cserdi” anymore either.

György Lázár

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