Monday, September 3, 2007

Right-wing 'Hungarian Guard' rejects charges of fascism

Hungarian Guard

Budapest - A recently-formed Hungarian extreme right group condemned by Jewish organizations and the Hungarian government on Friday said it was being misrepresented as fascist. "We firmly reject any slander which seeks to cast the Hungarian Guard as a Nazi, fascist and paramilitary organization," the head of the group Gabor Vona said in a statement.

"The Guard was not formed against something but for something. The Hungarian nation," he continued.

The creation of the Hungarian Guard by the extreme-right party Jobbik, of which Vona is also president, has raised fears among the Jewish community both in Hungary and internationally.

Prior to the creation of the body, Hungary's Jewish community had been warning that anti-Semitism was once again on the rise.

Some 56 Hungarian Guard members wore black uniforms and black caps during a swearing-in ceremony last Saturday outside Budapest's Buda Castle, the historic seat of Hungarian royalty.

Mazsihisz (The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities) has said that the uniforms were similar to those worn by the fascists in the 1940s.

The guard has chosen as its coat of arms a variation on the red-and-white Arpad Stripes, a medieval flag that became associated with Hungary's Nazi-aligned Arrow Cross party in power for a brief period during World War II.
The Hungarian Guard says on its website that it was formed because Hungary lacks "physical, mental or spiritual self-defence."

Conscripts will carry out physical, mental and spiritual training to help defend the homeland, maintain public order and preserve Hungarian culture, the guard's charter says.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has called the organization "Hungary's shame" and asked Chief Prosecutor Tamas Kovacs to monitor the group.

While Jobbik has no parliamentary representation, main right-of-centre opposition party Fidesz fought seats in many constituencies with Jobbik's support in the 2006 general elections.

Jobbik members were amongst those that last year took part in anti-government riots that followed the leak of a tape on which Gyurcsany admitted he had lied about the economy.

Fidesz has accused Gyurcsany and his allies of reacting to the guard in a hysterical manner in an attempt to distract attention from the nation's economic woes.

Vona took the same tack on Friday, asking the press not to become "tools of the Gyurcsany madness" but to "listen to their eyes, ears and good sense."

Gyurcsany argues that right-wing extremism is growing in Hungary and on Wednesday said that "the fascists are gathering" after a right-wing radio station published a photomontage of a government official wearing a Nazi symbol used to label homosexual men.

Lanchid Radio published on its website Wednesday a picture of Gabor Szetey - a state secretary who last month admitted he was homosexual - standing outside Auschwitz concentration camp wearing a pink triangle.

The picture was quickly removed, and two staff members - one of them a Fidesz local government representative - were fired.

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