Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics has condemned an article by journalist Zsolt Bayer, a member of the ruling party, whose content has been slammed as anti-Roma.
Fidesz has no room for anyone “who labels a group of people as animals”, Navracsics told commercial television ATV in an interview late on Monday.
Navracsics said that an article by Bayer, published in Magyar Hirlap daily at the weekend, contained “sentiments offensive to democracy, defying Fidesz’s democratic principles of community”.
Navracsics said that he “deeply” condemned Bayer’s remarks and added that “nobody must be put in a category based on his origin”.
Commenting on a recent stabbing in a village south of Budapest involving suspected Roma assailants, wrote in Saturday’s Magyar Hirlap that “most Gypsies are unsuitable for co-existence, unsuitable for living among people. These Gypsies are animals and act as animals … they should not be tolerated or understood but punished.”
On New Year’s Eve two junior athletes were stabbed at a club in Szigethalom, a village south of Budapest. One of them is in critical condition and the other also suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment.
An attack was alleged to have taken place before a fight that preceded the stabbing. One of the suspected attackers, a 17-year-old man, has been arrested.
Bajnai calls for left-right unity; DK for criminal probe
Also on Monday, former prime minister Gordon Bajnai called on “democrats both on the right and left” to join forces and protest Bayer’s comments.
Bajnai, head of the Patriotism and Progress Association, said in a statement that Bayer had “smeared the reputation” of the ruling Fidesz party, of which he is a founding member, and of that Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Hungary justly expects them to remove the stain,” Bajnai said. “Fidesz should clearly indicate whether it allows people advocating such racist and hatred-inciting ideologies to remain as party members.”
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) party on Monday called on the public prosecutor to launch an investigation into Bayer’s anti-Roma statements, and called on other parties and civil organisations to join in a demonstration next Sunday to demand that Fidesz withdraw Bayer’s membership.
DK politician Agnes Vadai, an independent deputy, called it “repulsive that (Bayer) … Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s friend has incited genocide in a clear, deliberate and pre-meditated way.”
The green party LMP earlier on Monday also lambasted Bayer for “inciting hatred” against Hungary’s Roma community.