The World Jewish Congress (WJC) protested against a Hungarian local government official’s anti-Semitic remark, and urged powerful political action against such acts, in a letter released to MTI on Thursday.
“Such an anti-Jewish bibe must not go unanswered,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder wrote.
Lauder’s letter was written after Attila Kiss, a local government official in Hungary’ northwestern Rajka town had called up fellow councillors to take up “sickles and hacks” and cleanse the “synagogue in Kossuth Street”.
Kiss, who is a member of the radical nationalist paramilitary Hungarian Guard, told MTI after the incident came to light that he had meant to say (Budapest’s) Kossuth Square, alluding to the Parliament building, rather than a local synagogue.
Last week the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (Mazsihisz), an affiliate of WJC, lodged an official complaint against Kiss.
“Such statements must be dealt with by strong political action,” Lauder wrote.
The president also welcomed plans recently outlined by Hungary’s Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to introduce legislation punishing hate speech and the incitement to hatred.
“This is good news, and we hope such legislation will be adopted unanimously by the Hungarian Parliament very soon,” Lauder said in his letter.
Lauder praised the government for taking action against the Hungarian Guard. “It was encouraging to learn that a court recently banned the guard,” he said and offered WJC’s support in the fight against anti-Semitism and extremism. However, he added that “ultimately, this problem needs to be dealt with by the Hungarians themselves.”