Some 300 people gathered in a suburb of northern Hungary’s Miskolc for a protest march to the city centre organised by the local Roma government on Wednesday.
Head of the Roma government Gabor Varadi told MTI that the protest dubbed as a “march for the homeland and democracy” was intended as a warning against hatred, segregation, and efforts to stigmatise the Roma as a scapegoat for problems. The message for politicians is that they must stop using the Roma as a tool to achieve their own purposes, Varadi added.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party and leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) also held demonstrations in Miskolc’s Avas suburb on the same day.
Around 400-500 supporters gathered for Jobbik’s demo, held in reaction to what they see as bad public security in the Avas district.
Jobbik head Gabor Vona told MTI that the focus of the party’s demonstration was “problems in the coexistence of Roma and non-Roma” and added that many in the Avas area felt threatened by people who have recently moved into the neighbourhood.
Miskolc Mayor Akos Kriza told a press conference on Wednesday that the demonstrations were motivated by “political profiteering”.
The mayor said that under a housing programme of the previous, Socialist governments hundreds of families moved into a housing estate in the Avas area, people who made no effort to fit in and whose behaviours scandalised local residents. He added, however, that the situation had improved through the city’s efforts during the past one or two years, and those “marching up and down” in the city will compromise the achievements.
“There has been and there will be peace and order in Miskolc,” the mayor said.
DK, founded by former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, held a protest with some 150 people including MPs Agnes Vadai and Csaba Molnar attending.
Speakers at the event said that neither the governing parties nor Jobbik were really interested in resolving the situation in Avas.
Participants held up a “Peace! Calm! Solutions!” sign. Representatives of the party told MTI earlier that extreme expressions must not be allowed, adding that “residents of the Avas housing estate are no criminals; they want peace and resolution of their problems”.