The US State Department has criticised parts of Hungary’s church law and the strengthening of the radical nationalist Jobbik party in its international report of religious freedom for 2011.
In terms of the Hungarian church law, the report criticised rules of registration for religious organisations, as well as the requirement of parliament’s consent for recognition. The report noted that the legislation had reduced the number of Hungary’s recognised religious groups from over 300 to 32.
The survey also noted the increasing popularity of Jobbik, which it labelled as an openly anti-Semitic party.
The Hungarian government welcomed the report on freedom of religion recognising Hungary’s “constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom”, the government’s international communications office told MTI on Tuesday.
The report praised the government’s financial support for the historical churches and the restitution of former communal real estate properties confiscated during the communist era.
It noted that the state secretariat for education organised study trips for teachers to the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, Defence Minister announced that the Defence Ministry was funding the renovation of graves of soldiers of Jewish origin who died in combat during the First World War, and the government hosted a Christian-Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Conference during Hungary’s EU presidency in 2011.
The communications office reiterated the government’s commitment to taking action against anti-Semitism.
Hungarian government commissioner Andras Levente Gal informed Hannah Rosenthal, special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, during her recent visit to Budapest that Hungary would set up a monitoring system which would provide an authentic picture about anti-Semitic and anti-minority phenomena as well as the social approach and institutional reactions to them.
Rosenthal praised the government’s effort and stressed that the government acted in the spirit of tolerance in several programmes, including the Wallenberg Year commemorations
The office cited Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor as saying on July 25 that fighting against anti-Semitism is highly important for both countries. He also welcomed Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s statement on a policy of zero tolerance towards any forms of anti-Semitism.