Saturday, January 31, 2009

Anti-Gypsy rally by Magyar Garda banned in Hungary

A local Hungarian police force has banned a rally planned by the Magyar Garda, a radical nationalist movement connected to the Jobbik party, in NW Hungary, a police official told MTI on Wednesday.

The Magyar Garda, originally registered as an organisation, now describes itself as a "movement".

Local police press officer Tunde Kocsis said the event, which the Garda planned for Ivan village on Saturday, would disrupt traffic in the area.

Representatives of the Magyar Garda said earlier they wanted to demonstrate because of a recent rise in thefts and rowdiness in the village, which they insist is owing to the local Roma community.

Ivan, with a population of 1,400, has a Roma community of 270 people, including 60 who are school-age.

Jobbik registered "Magyar Garda" in June 2007 as a "cultural organisation" to "prepare youth spiritually and physically for extraordinary situations when it might be necessary to mobilise the people."

A Budapest court of first instance recently gave a ruling banning the organisation, which it is appealing against.

Read here and here and here and here for some background on the Magyar Garda and their parent party, Jobbik.  Jobbik is a far right party which is described as  fascist, neo-fascist or far right.  Typical of such parties, Jobbik claims that it is not racist but pro-Hungarian, pro-family values, etc., yet makes anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsy racism key aspects of its program and rhetoric.   The Magyar Garda are their political shock troops, frequently demonstrating against Jews and Gypsies in paramilitary uniforms.   These groups are attempting to capitalize on high levels of anti-Semitism in Hungary.  A 2007 polling report by the ADL found to be the highest of six European nations surveyed, connecting it with economic fears.  (Read pdf here.)  By the way Jobbik is currently suing in Hungary's supreme court to have Israel cited for war crimes in Gaza.  (Read here.)

On the march

Here's what the English version of Spiegel Online has to say about the Magary Garda in a must-read article headlined Neo-Fascist Magyar Garda Is 'Hungary's Shame':

The Magyar Garda -- "Magyar means "Hungarian" -- has pledged to train its members in the use of firearms and its members wear a uniform of black pants and vests with white shirts, and a cap emblazoned with a medieval coat of arms, the Arpad Stripes.  The striped, red and white symbol is a centuries old Hungarian banner, a version of which was used by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party that briefly ruled Hungary toward the end of World War II.  The party murdered thousands of Jews and deported hundreds of thousands more to Nazi death camps.  Jewish groups, including the World Jewish Congress, have condemned the founding of the new "guard" and have called on the government in Budapest to act against it.

Karl Pfeifer, writing in the British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight in October 2007, described the Magyar Garda as increasingly using violent demonstrations as a deliberate strategy to gain political power, perhaps with an eye towards a future coup attempt.  (Read here.)   The Magyar Garda recently drew official condemnation from the Budapest municipal council in response to an anti-Gypsy rally by the group which targeted teenagers at a high school in Budapest.  (Read here.)  

One of the last official acts of the late Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, himself a Holocaust survivor and partisan against the Hungarian fascists, was to introduce a bill to ban members of the Magyar Garda from entering the U.S.   (Read here and here and about his rescue by Raoul Wallenberg here.  Here is the bill's full text.  It has yet to be voted on.)

Members of extreme-right

One of Jobbik's leaders has set up shop in the U.K and has ties to the BNP. (Read here and here.)  According to the Sun:

Zoltan Fuzessy, 35, uses his terraced house in Gravesend, Kent, as an HQ to promote his far-right movement.

Fuzessy is vice-president of the Jobbik party, whose members freely boast of their hatred towards Jews and make sick jokes about the Holocaust.

The party, called “the shame of Hungary” by the country’s PM, has paramilitaries who dress in black uniforms like Hitler’s SS and has close ties to the British National Party.

Fuzessy also stated that:

"Those who call us Nazi are just Communists."

Nick Griffin and Zoltan Fuzessy

And here's a video of Griffin speaking at a Jobbik rally:

(For those interested, the Magyar Garda are making extensive use of YouTube, but their videos are pretty dull stuff if you can't speak Hungarian -- probably even if you can. View this and this and this and this.)

[Note regarding use of the term "Gypsy": I understand that this term is considered offensive by many Roma and Sinti. I use it only so a general readership, who may be unfamiliar with the correct terms, will know what I'm talking about. I apologize to all who find it offensive. Any ideas about how to better phrase this would be appreciated. -- ADAM HOLLAND]


Andrew Ian Dodge said...

My only objection is the continued use of the term "far-right" for National socialists. They are no far-right they are a marxist heresy. The BNP's whole theme is "your father's Labour Party". The BNP and these nuts are not of the right they are firmly of the left.

Adam Holland said...


I've heard this argument made by conservatives (such as Jonah Goldberg, who believes that U.S. liberals are "fascists) but find it unconvincing. The fact that National Socialism includes the word "socialism" doesn't reflect a left-wing ideology so much as a right-wing populism. The fact that it favors central planning over laissez-faire economics reflects authoritarianism as opposed to classic liberalism.

(The whole left/right model is deeply flawed -- that I will admit -- but it's still the best we've got. As China ascends, and as the world realigns in reaction, we, or our children, may have to entirely rethink this.)

For now, I can't find a better way to describe a racist, nationalist, "family values", militarist, anti-communist, religious party than "far right" or "neo-fascist". Economically speaking, the anti-capitalist populism of this type of party is always highly selective anyway. Whenever a fascist party takes power, corporations with ties to the government gain power.

Try reading this piece by Chip Berlet here.

This piece might be interesting to you also. It talks about deliberate attempts of the far right to woo the far left, something that the BNP and Jobbik appear be doing.

One other point about Jobbik's alleged anti-capitalism. They oppose foreign speculators as part of their populism -- yet the ones they name are always Jewish. Check out the ADL report I cited in the piece and you'll see that Hungary surveyed as highly anti-Semitic based on economic fears, not religious or anti-Israel bias as in the other surveyed nations.

I think that both Jobbik and BNP are highly opportunistic and look for whatever "in" they can find, whatever the ideology. But let's not forget what drum they goose-step to.

Adam Holland said...


Soros, whatever you think of his views on Israel or his profession, has certainly contributed a great deal to the nations of Eastern Europe. He and the NGOs he's founded and sponsored have played a great role in promoting democracy and civil society in these countries -- a role which has been under-reported for reasons I'm not sure of. Their focus isn't on Jews per se, but on promoting the sort of environment anyone would want.

For those who want to research this, his NGO called Open Society has branches in many of the former Soviet bloc nations.


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