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Péter Dániel and László Grespik

Guest post by Karl Pfeifer

Péter Dániel is a Hungarian lawyer and civil rights activist. When in 2010 the new rightwing government of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party presented a declaration of national solidarity mandatory in every government office, Dániel pelted it with a mayonnaise egg. When a similar law came into effect for the new constitution, he doused it with ketchup. And when a Horthy statue was erected this year in western Hungary, Daniel threw red color over it.

Because of this Péter Dániel was expelled by the Budapest Chamber of Lawyers, a decision against which he appealed. Should the expulsion be upheld he no longer will be able to practice as a lawyer.

A respected member the chamber’s executive board dealing with Dániel’s case is László Grespik, who acted as defense attorney for a client charged with public sedition after performing in a Skinhead concert in February 1999 on the so-called “day of honor”. His client sang songs addressing the Jews as “scum of the earth, stinking dirty hoard, parasites living of our country! They got what they wanted, and are holding Hungary in their hands (…) They are the ones who are allowed to do anything, fight them, protect yourself!”. And: “Run, run, stinking Jew, sooner or later you’ll turn into soap anyway.”

Grespik saw fit to insist that the judge dealing with the case of the singing Skinhead disclose “whether she regarded herself as Jewish or had Jewish ancestors, for if she had, she might be biased.”

The judge explained that she was “not obliged to answer the question”, but, in view of the special nature of the case, to avoid any further complications, was ready to state: “I am not biased and not a Jew, and have, to the best of my knowledge, no Jewish ancestors.”

Let me quote Primo Levi: “It is not easy and not pleasant to confront this outrage, but I believe we must face it, because whatever could happen yesterday may happen again tomorrow, perhaps to us or to our children.”