Hungary’s media watchdog, the Media Council, has launched an investigation against the daily Magyar Hirlap for publishing an article seen as inciting hatred towards the Roma minority.
The Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) confirmed a Thursday report by Nepszabadsag daily about the proceedings related to the Jan. 5 article by Zsolt Bayer.
The watchdog’s action is in response to a complaint by the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) about the article, which had been written in response to a stabbing in which Roma were the suspects.
Bayer wrote in his article entitled “Who shouldn’t be?” that “Gypsies are animals and act as animals”.
“Most Gypsies are unsuited for co-existence, for living among people … If they don’t get immediately what they want, they kill,” he wrote.
In response to sharp criticism at home and abroad, Bayer said he had been misunderstood and he did not “wish to liquidate the Roma, not in part, or even a single one.”
Magyar Hirlap at first apologised for the article before asking its readers to stand by Bayer, Nepszabadsag wrote.
Erika Muhi, director of NEKI, told the paper that her office had turned to the Media Council because they felt that Bayer had broken the law and his words were incitement to hatred and segregation. Her office welcomed the media authority’s decision to order an investigation.
The Media Council said it would examine whether the paper had broken the ban on inciting hatred and discrimination as specified in the media constitution.
The media constitution declares that no media content should arouse hatred or discrimination against any nation, community, ethnic, language or other minority or majority, church or religious group.
This is the first occasion that NMHH started proceedings on the ground that printed and on-line media may have harmed fundamental constitutional rights.