Hungary’s prime minister denounces anti-Semitism
BUDAPEST — Hungary’s prime minister told an international assembly of Jews on Sunday that his government has declared “zero tolerance” on anti-Semitism, but his speech failed to impress those gathered who said he has failed to confront the country’s third-biggest political force, the Jobbik party, whose politicians in parliament have used hate speech.
Addressing the opening session of the World Jewish Congress, Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged that anti-Semitism was on the rise both in Europe and Hungary, attributing it partly to the economic crisis affecting the region.
“Anti-Semitism is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” Orban told 600 delegates at the meeting, adding that it was his government’s “moral duty to declare zero tolerance on anti-Semitism.”
While delegates applauded some parts of Orban’s speech, the congress was quick to express its disappointment that he had not specifically talked about Jobbik.
“The prime minister did not confront the true nature of the problem — the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobbik party in particular,” the congress said in a statement.
Orban’s government, which has been criticized by the European Union and the United States for weakening democratic standards by, for example, overriding court decisions with its two-thirds majority in parliament, has recently tightened laws on hate speech and has banned the use of Nazi and communist symbols in certain instances.