By Karl Pfeifer
Reporters for the Christian antifascist Budapest weekly Hetek were lethally threatened, personally humiliated and restricted in their free movement August 3 at the far-right gathering called the Magyar Sziget Festival in Verőce, Hungary.
It was the tenth time the summer camp for “youth of national calling”; initially it was meant to counter the famous Pepsi Sziget Festival (Hungarian Woodstock) held in August in Budapest. With the strengthening of Hungarian paramilitary and extremist movements in recent years, attendance at Magyar Sziget has also significantly increased. Thus they already refer to the event as the pan-Hungarian gathering of the “National Radical Movement,” where national heritage competitions (archery, animal trailing, runic script, cuisine of the Huns, etc.) and family and children’s programs are featured alongside lectures depriving the historical Jesus of his Jewish identity, and information on the “Jewish world conspiracy.” They experiment with banned symbols, uniforms, lyrics, banners and signs– activity that is outright illegal at present. What makes the meeting especially interesting this year is that the organizers are backed by a political party, Jobbik, which holds 17 percent of the seats in Parliament. The reporters of our news magazine informed the press secretary of Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom (HVIM), the “64 Counties [of pre-World War I Hungary] Youth Movement” of their arrival to obtain the necessary approval as journalists.
“It won’t be a problem, you can come anytime, if you buy the entrance ticket, you can stay on until evening; if not, you can see the camp with our escort,” the spokesman said. Well, it almost happened that way. Upon arrival they paid the 5600 forint (20 EUR) entrance fee, but were not allowed to move about freely on the campgrounds. They were introduced to a certain Béla who accompanied them closely and informed them: “You can only take pictures of what I allow, or we will delete all the pictures. Interviews can only be made with previously approved persons and previously approved questions, and you are not allowed to switch on your recording equipment until I say so.”
After a few pre-approved photographs, they continued their tour to a stage called “King Attila”. Laszlo Tompo Jr. was speaking in the tent about “Jewish Media Policy in Hungary.” Extracts: “The Jew is a master at lying… The Jew is the classical demon of corruption… The Jew is most dangerous when he claims to be a Christian… The Jew can use the atom bomb, but he can only use it for evil… The world of Jewish media goads people first into stealing chickens, then unto higher level crime.” And so on.
The lecturer claimed that the first medical university also served the interests of the Jewish lobby, by allowing the Jews to use medicine to try and corrupt “our bodies” after they had corrupted “our language.” At the end of his lecture, Mr. Tompo called for the complete boycott of the “Jewish press,” which was greeted by massive applause.
Journalists of Hetek wanted to interview the literary historian, but he refused the request. So they could not ask the orator to justify his linguistic claims, namely: “There are no words for love and science in the Hebrew language, only worlds which belong to the category of criminology.” However, our colleagues enriched their vocabulary with a new word, Jewolics (zsidolikus in Hungarian), for Catholics who forbid the use of the “Arpad flag”, the historical red-white stripes paraded by neo-Fascists.
During the lecture one of the correspondents from Hetek started a conversation with their young escort, who said: “I am not an anti-Semite, but an a-Semite. This means a world without Jews, a Hungarian society free of Jews. Why is this important? Because the media are influenced by the Jewish lies, distortions, and continually publish false articles about the national-radical side.”
The journalists soon learned that they could interview György Gyula Zagyva, a Jobbik MP, the chairman of HVIM and manager of the camp. Instead of an open-air meeting on the spot, the questions had to be asked in a secluded hut, behind closed doors. In the barracks – with a skull over the entrance – MP Zagyva reclined on a bed, and held a horse whip in his hand which he kept swinging around while talking, so the journalists could not tell whether he would strike or was just threatening.
Béla pulled the door shut with the help of his buddy as the atmosphere in the room noticeably changed. “Are you really surprised? You should be glad they didn’t beat you up!” the elected Jobbik politician began, after being asked why all this control was imposed. His colleague added, “Who allowed you to turn on your voice recorder? I see you can’t hide your Jewish disrespect!” They made it clear that the two reporters had wandered onto enemy territory, where democracy ended and they could be treated at will. “We could pull your pants off and f*** you, no one would believe you if you ever got out of here,” György Gyula Zagyva told them. Then he went on to explain how they humiliated the reporters of TV2, who had their clothes smeared with feces and urine. He mentioned another journalist, who lost a tooth after he dared to talk back. “And we taught ‘Index’ (an independent website) a lesson” for several articles which criticized the national radical front. They write less about the topic since then…” The Jobbik MP then went on to share his feelings concerning our colleagues, “If I could only seize you and kick your guts out!” Whenever Jewish topics were raised, he cracked his whip in the direction of one of the journalists, but the braided leather did not hit.
From this point on the Hetek reporters felt directly threatened in their physical safety. “Don’t you realize there’s a war going on? And it will only escalate! There are enemy front lines drawn up and you have just stepped over the line. I think it’s best if I just tear you apart right here!” Zagyva told them. Suddenly he had an idea to take the journalists over to the part within the camp where the Székely (Hungarians living in Transsylvania) had their tents, where he would disclose their identity, and although he would try to protect them from the enraged brothers, he would not be able guarantee their safety.
Just then, since the bathroom of the hut was used as a public toilet, someone knocked, and a burly man entered the room. “What would you do to someone who sincerely claimed to be a Jew?” Zagyva asked him. The man put on a scornful grin and explained that after butchering the person, he would let him out to the fresh air through the chimney.
Our reporters tried to stay calm and went on to ask further questions. Consequently they found out that the visitors include a large number of families with children, and that ‘Magyar Sziget’ had attracted return visitors by the thousands in the past years.
The organizers continued to disapprove of the leftist liberal press labeling them anti-Semitic, and claimed to feature hardly any lectures on Jewish topics. Meanwhile they repeatedly insulted the journalists of Hetek and threatened to kill the editor in chief of the news magazine.
The nearly 45-minute-long interrogation ended only after the Hetek journalists agreed to visit another location within the camp, where a lecture on cults called “The Secret War – The Battle of the Traditionalists with the Forces of Corruption” was held. They explained that the lecture would deal with Scientology and the Faith Church (Hit Gyülekezete), and Béla made sure the reporters understood they should be looking for him, otherwise they could easily end up being mugged.
Out in the open a few pictures could be taken of the group wearing traditional costumes from the Vas region, but taking pictures of the military training of a militia called Véderő (defence force) was forbidden. As he was saying goodbye, Béla told the journalists they would beat the shit out of them if they had recorded anything that was said in the wooden hut. However they never checked what was recorded.
Karl Pfeifer is Vienna correspondent of the Budapest antifascist Christian weekly Hetek