Despite the efforts of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his rightwing Fidesz party to publicly distance themselves from the antisemitism and anti-Romanyism of the Hungarian far right, they just can’t seem to avoid stepping in it time after time.
The Independent reports:
Hungary’s right-wing government faced fierce criticism today for awarding its top state journalism prize to a television presenter notorious for spreading Jewish conspiracy theories and describing the country’s Roma minority as “human monkeys”.
Media reports from Budapest said the government of conservative premier Viktor Orban had awarded Hungary’s annual Tancsics prize – the country’s highest journalistic award – to Ferenc Szaniszlo, a presenter for the pro-government Echo TV channel.
Mr Szaniszlo’s anti-Semitic outbursts and his detrimental remarks about the country’s ostracised Roma minority were made on air in 2011 and prompted Hungary’s state-controlled media watchdog body to fine the channel. Today, ten former Tancsics recipients said they were returning their awards in protest against the decision. Mr Szaniszlo was not reported to have commented on their actions.
Zoltan Balog, the government minister responsible for state awards, described the choice of Mr Szaniszlo as “regrettable”. He claimed he had been unaware that the presenter had made anti-Semitic and racist remarks on air. Mr Balog said he had no legal powers to rescind the award.
Other recipients included the musician, Janos Petras, lead singer of the group Karpatia, which is regarded as the house band of Hungary’s extreme right-wing and virulently anti-Semitic Jobbik party, and the archaeologist Kornel Bakay, who has claimed Jesus Christ was Hungarian and that the Jews were slave traders during the Middle Ages.