August 11, 2007

Hungarian Jews disturbed by formation of right-wing group

Hungarian Jews disturbed by formation of right-wing group. By DPA news service, in Ha'aretz:

A Hungarian Jewish association on Wednesday expressed concern about the formation of an armed "Hungarian Guard" by an extreme-right- wing group, saying that the uniforms its members planned to wear were close to those wore by fascists in the 1940s.

"Mazsihisz (The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities) is at a loss to explain the recent creation of this armed body," Mazsihisz said in a statement.

The extreme-right- wing party Jobbik on Friday said it would establish the Hungarian Guard because Hungary is currently lacking any "physical, mental or spiritual self-defense" .

The 56 founding members of Jobbik are planning to have a swearing-in ceremony on August 25 at Budapest's Buda Castle, the historical seat of Hungarian royalty.

The party members plan to wear black uniforms bearing the controversial red-and-white Arpad Stripes, a medieval coat of arms that became associated with the Nazi-aligned Arrow Cross party in power for a brief period during World War II.

Around half of the 200,000 Jews living in Budapest prior to the war perished during World War II, many of them sent to concentration camps or lined up on the banks of the Danube and shot.

In total, over 400,000 Jews were sent to death camps from Hungary in 1944. Many of the killings were carried out under the direction of the Arrow Cross Party.

Mazsihisz said the planned uniforms were similar "to the point of deception" to those worn by the fascists in the 1940s.

Right-wing groups say that they are simply reclaiming the Arpad Stripes, while opponents say the symbol has become inextricably linked with a fascist regime.
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