Is Hungary too tolerant of extreme right?

20-05-2005

A young Roma boy was seriously injured in Budapest after he was stabbed with a sword by a man, who witnesses identified as a neo-Nazi - apparently wearing a Nazi uniform and a war helmet. The stabbing took place in a crowded bus, in broad daylight, and in a district that is believed to house a training centre for extreme-right groupings.

But the police are still searching for the assailant and Hungarians are divided over whether or not this latest attack was racially motivated. In solidarity with the Roma community, a protest demonstration was held in Budapest. Radio Budapest asked philosopher and protest organiser Gaspar Tamas Miklos whether this most recent, and most violent, incident could help bring attention to xenophobia and racism that still appears to prevail in Hungary:

"In a way I wish it would be, since this poor boy who was stabbed by a neo-Nazi with a sword should at least have the satisfaction that his suffering has served some purpose. Public opinion on this is divided as always. I looked at a few internet sites discussing what happened and the demonstration that was organised afterwards to protest against Neo-Nazi racial crimes. There was some solidarity towards the Roma but there was even more indignant opinion saying that people protest when a minority is stabbed but they don't protest when members of the majority are victims of aggression. Today's papers had similar comments too.

"But if we consider that the measures that the Ministry of Education took last year, in order to end segregation in elementary schools that discriminate against people of colour, people of Gypsy origin, were effectively countermanded and stopped by pressure from MPs and public opinion and finally nothing happened, I don't know whether this will make people think a bit."

20-05-2005