March 06, 2007

Anti-Semitism in Hungary on the rise, says PM


Anti-Semitism was on the rise in his country, Hungary's prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has told the London newspaper "The Times". In the interview, Gyurcsany also said radical nationalism could grip Eastern Europe as the region resisted much needed reforms.

Asked whether there had been a revival of anti-Semitism since the demonstrations against his government last fall, the Hungarian leader said: "I have to say there have never been so many anti-Semitic remarks as now." His wife Klara Dobrev, a law lecturer at Budapest University, was handed a leaflet last week "the likes of which we have never seen in the last 50 years in Hungary," he said, adding: "It is very clear and unambiguous anti-Semitic pamphlet. This does not only outrage me because my wife is of Jewish descent."

Gyurcsany and his coalition of Socialists and Free Democrats survived last year's protests touched off by the leaking of a tape in which the prime minister admitted lying about the parlous state of the economy to win national election in April. In the interview, the prime minister said that during the demonstrations a list of allegedly Jewish politicians was read out in the parliamentary square.

Gyurcsany accused members of the main right opposition Fidesz party of appearing on the same platform afterwards and failing to distance themselves. "There is something horrible happening," he said. "The Times" said Fidesz officials had denied accusations of anti-Semitism and instead accused the government of using scare tactics to frighten their supporters.