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Hungary’s Biased Justice

This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer, a veteran anti-fascist and journalist based in Vienna. It also appears at Z Word

In Hungary, both Holocaust denial and incitement against Jews, Roma, the gay community and the left are permissible. But Tibor Bakács, a journalist, has been fined by a Hungarian court for describing a gang of racist, antisemitic bikers as “fascists.”

Bakács was taken to court by the gang, who call themselves the Goj (as in “Non-Jewish”) Motorosok (as in plural of motorcyclist.) You can see the gang’s logo here and you can see two of its members wearing an antisemitic t-shirt here.

“Do not tease us, fateless” reads the slogan on the t-shirt. This is a reference to Hungarian Nobel prize-winner Imre Kertesz ’s slim novel, “Fatelessness”, a book about the experiences of a fourteen year old boy, George Koves, in the infernos of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The Goj Gang pretend to represent “Christian values” and deny that they are fascists or antisemitic. This is accepted in Hungary. But it is by no means justified. Considering the name of this gang, their revisionist advocacy for a Greater Hungary in their Logo and their t-Shirts with antisemitic slogans, it is clear that to call them fascist is an understatement.

Their case against Bakács was based upon the following sentence in a radio program: “Well then, Goj Motor Gang, well then you fascists, don’t you know history?”

The racist gang declared themselves offended, went to court and won the case. They demanded from Bakács compensation of $16,800 and the court has condemned him to pay $770.

Bakács wants to go if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights. He is not planning to pay the fine if he is also condemned by Hungary’s Appeal Court, preferring to serve a custodial sentence of six weeks.

Compare this case with that of the notorious antisemitic clergyman Lóránt Hegedüs Jr, who defied just last week a Court decision disbanding the infamous Hungarian by joining with this racist trash.

In August 2001, Hegedüs published an article entitled “The Christian Hungarian State” which was published in the journal Ébresztö, issued by the antisemitic MIÉP organization of Budapest’s 16th District.

Clergyman Lóránt Hegedüs wrote

“…The Christian Hungarian State could have withstood even that, if, as a result of the self-renunciation of the Compromise of 1867 [between Austria and Hungary], the hordes of the vagabonds of Galicia had not invaded it; who, as if they were the old self of man without salvation, in an ancient onslaught fretted and are still scrunching this homeland, which, despite all this, is capable of resurrection from its ruins, on the heaps of the bones of our heroes. With their Zion of the Old Testament lost because of their sins and rebellions against God, let the most promising eminence of the moral order of the New Testament, the Hungarian Zion be irretrievably perished.

“And because it is not possible to burn out every single Palestinian from the banks of river Jordan with Fascist methods very often surpassing even those ofthe Nazis, they come to the banks of the Danube, sometimes as internationalists,sometimes as nationalists, and sometimes as cosmopolitans, to kick into theHungarians once again, because they feel like it…

“Now let you Hungarians listen to the one single message of survival over the thousandth year of the Christian Hungarian state, which has been based on theancestral inheritance and continuity of right: EXCLUDE THEM! FOR IF YOU DO NOT EXCLUDE THEM, THEY WILL EXCLUDE YOU! [original emphasis] Of this message we are warned by the misery of thousand years, by the inheritance nevertheless existing “high above” of our country that has been robbed and looted a thousand times, and last but not least by the stone-throwing sons of Ramallah….”

Lóránt Hegedüs Jr., read out the above text in Pannon Rádió; which was recorded, and at 6.55 and 7.55 a.m. on 4th September 2001, broadcast in the program entitled “Religious norms and spiritual call” of the same radio channel.

The lower court condemned Hegedüs Jr but the higher court acquitted him.

Here are some quotes from that judgment:

“In the decision of the court of the first instance (the last two passages on page 4 and the first three passages on page 5) it is elaborated what qualifies as anti-Semitism in the view of the court. The definition of anti-Semitism and the analysis of its nature is not the task of the criminal court of trial of the given case.”

“In summary, the court is obliged to address anti-Semitism only to the extent the right of the expression of opinion granted in the constitution is concerned, having regard to the fact that anti-Semitism is ordered to be punished by the Hungarian Criminal Code in force exclusively if it is manifested as an incitement to hatred….”

“Opinions may be freely expressed as long as they do not turn into incitement to hatred….”

Dated: Budapest, 6 November 2003

Dr. Péter Nehrer Dr Katalin Csere Dr Éva Lányi

presiding judge presenting judge judge

Dr. Péter Nehrer

presiding judge

Source in English here.

UPDATE – Karl adds:

Népszava, the leftwing Budapest daily reported today on the Bakács court case. A witness, the psychologist Dr.Anna Ször  gave evidence in which she spoke about “gypsy criminality”. Thejudge did not interrupt her, to ask, what she meant. The journalist observes that in Hungary, it is permissible to talk about “gypsy criminality” in court, but to call a gang of racist bikers “fascists“ is punishable.

Dr. Ször gave a speech on July 11 at a demonstration of the Hungarian Guard protesting against the sentence of another court disbanding the Guard. She expressed doubt about the independence of Hungarian courts. She then called upon all the patriotic intellectuals of Hungary to join the Hungarian Guard.