Zsolt Bayer & kindred spirits
Chinese Crienglish.com reports 100,000 pro government marchers in Budapest tonight, saying:
The marchers, coming from all over Hungary and neighboring countries with large ethnic Hungarian minorities, met at Budapest's Heroes Square, by a monument to heroes of Hungarian history.
Newswire MTI reported tens of thousands in the crowd of marchers and thousands more cheering along the sidelines.
The marchers, carried posters supporting Prime Minister Viktor Orban who has been criticized by the opposition as well as the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the United States and others for moves they believe violate the independence of Hungary's central bank, judiciary, data protection ombudsman and the media.
"We refuse to become a colony!" argued some of the signs.
A second crowd waited at Parliament, the marchers' destination, to greet them.
The march was organized by journalist Zsolt Bayer, who writes for the right-wing Magyar Hirlap and has often been charged with overt anti-Semitism, Andras Bencsik, editor-in-chief of the conservative and nationalistic journal Magyar Demokrata, Andras's brother Gabor Bencsik, a historian who has written extensively about problems with the Roma (Gypsy) population, and Gabor Szeles, owner of the Magyar Hirlap newspaper.
A flavour of Mr Bayer, as follows:
András Schiff's letter to the editor of The Washington Post gave Bayer a wonderful opportunity to vent against Hungarian Jews. I will translate some passages, but I'm not sure whether I will be able to give the flavor of Bayer's writing in English. It is hard for me to be that base.
The piece, entitled "The same stench," begins this way: "A stinking excrement called something like Cohen from somewhere in England writes that 'foul stench wafts' from Hungary. Cohen [he means Nick Cohen, the UK journalist], and Cohn-Bendit, and Schiff. Népszava appears with the red figure of the man with the hammer and demands freedom of the press. Most people think that this is something new and that war like that didn't take place before. Nonsense. There is nothing new under the sun. Unfortunately, they were not all buried up to their necks in the forest of Orgovány." A brief explanation. Orgovány, a small village on the Great Plains, was the place of massacres committed by the leaders of the Hungarian White Terror in 1919-1920. In plain language, Bayer is expressing his sorrow that not all the Jews were killed in those days.
That's my emphasis there.
Also worth adding is that the government, under the heading of electoral reform, has proposed giving ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary (see pt 5 here), in other words the citizens of other countries, a vote on their party preference. Since over 4 million Hungarians fall into this category this should ensure more Fidesz support for a long time. The injustice of the Trianon treaty is certainly a major issue but there is the ideal of a Greater Hungary behind this. I mention it because of the Hungarians abroad a representation of whom are mentioned as being present on this march.
This is not to claim that Fidesz voters are all anti-Semites and proto-fascists - by no means - but it's as well to know who organises your march
On the other hand we could also read this yesterday.
A civic group said Friday it would file an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights because authorities are blocking it from holding a protest on the March 15 national holiday by reserving all likely locations in downtown Budapest for official use.
Peter Juhasz, a spokesman for One Million for the Freedom of Press in Hungary, said the group is turning to the Strasbourg, France-based court because authorities are limiting its right to assembly.
Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos said in a statement he does not want to block the March 15 protest rally near Elizabeth Bridge and is willing to discuss the issue with the One Million group.
15 March is the key date for demonstrations. It marks the outbreak of the 1848 revolution. I myself was on the one in 1989. Crowding out the opposition is the strategy. Take up every available major public space. No need then for police or baton charges. Sorry, old man, that space is reserved for us.
The time of the counter-demonstrations has arrived. The government will want big shows of strength. It was done in Libya and Egypt. It's a common recourse. Things might or might not begin to get more violent from now so the world should keep watching. I trust the EU is watching and noting all this. And that it keeps track of Mr Bayer.