Hungarian Jewish group warns of anti-Semitism
08 Mar 2007 15:25:25 GMT

BUDAPEST, March 8 (Reuters) – Hungary’s Jews should stay at home for their own safety when protesters take to the streets again on a national holiday next week, the country’s biggest Jewish organisation said on Thursday.

The main parliamentary opposition and radical fringe groups plan anti-government rallies on March 15, a national holiday which was a day of protest under communism.

Hungary is home to eastern Europe’s largest Jewish population of over 100,000. Violent anti-government protests in September and October last year featured flags associated with fascism, anti-Semitic chants and banners.

There were no recorded incidents of people being attacked because they were Jewish.

“We are advising people, especially if they are elderly not to go out, to stay at home,” Peter Feldmajer, head of Jewish organisation Mazsihisz said on Thursday.

“If you followed the events, they constantly blamed Jews for all Hungary’s problems with the harshest words,” he said.

The far right was highly visible and vocal, even though it was a small part of the protests which came after Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted on a leaked tap he had lied about the economy to win last year’s general election.

Gyurcsany said last week that anti-Semitism in Hungary was worse than at any time in the last 50 years, and accused the main right-of-centre Fidesz opposition party of fomenting it.

He also said the presence at rallies of a red-and-white striped flag, used during World War Two by the fascist Arrow Cross regime which shipped hundreds of thousands of Jews to gas chambers and killed tens of thousands more, showed Fidesz accepted anti-Semitism.

Fidesz denied the charges and challenged Gyurcsany in parliament on Monday to produce evidence that any of its MPs or senior officials were anti-Semitic. He did not do so.