The radical nationalist Jobbik party staged a demonstration “in memory of victims of Bolshevism and Zionism” in Budapest on Saturday, amid stepped-up police presence.
The demonstration was held ahead of the general assembly of the World Jewish Congress which starts in Budapest on Sunday and despite a police ban issued earlier but overruled by a court decision.
At the demonstration, Jobbik leader Gabor Vona said the prime minister had overstepped his authority when he ordered the interior minister to block the demonstration.
In his address, Vona criticised Israeli President Shimon Peres for “encouraging [investors] to buy up Hungary” and called on Israel to “observe the resolutions of the United Nations and ensure the right of Palestinians to a free and independent state”.
Vona also called on Hungary’s Jews to “apologise for Jews killing Hungarians” during the Soviet Republic of 1919 and in the 1950s.
Jobbik lawmaker Eniko Hegedus asked participants to observe a one-minute silence and remember Hungarian victims of the second world war. She referred to “victims of Bolshevism and Zionism” and said that representatives of the World Jewish Congress should “make amends to those victims”.
Marton Gyongyosi, another Jobbik lawmaker, criticised the government for “openly serving Zionism”, and said that “the only difference between the Fidesz-government and its openly internationalist and Zionist, social-liberal predecessors is in rhetoric”.
For a short moment, a man in the middle of the crowd held up a banner showing a swastika made up of the photographs of Jobbik politicians. He was stopped by police. In the nearby Szabadsag square, a Facebook-organised flashmob of about 30 people including senior Socialist politicians, held a 15-minute counter-demonstration to the Jobbik event. Police officers stood between the two demonstrating groups.
On Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had instructed the interior minister to “use all lawful means” to prevent the demonstration. Orban also requested the Supreme Court to “examine what legal means there were at Hungary’s disposal to enforce its constitution”.
Earlier on Friday, Jobbik hailed a recent court decision facilitating the demonstration, which the police had banned right after the party announced its date.
Government spokesman Andras Giro-Szasz said earlier that the government firmly distanced itself from any anti-Semitic event or one which could be offensive for people of religious or other minorities, and pledged government action to prevent such events from happening.