Hungarian politicians and Jewish groups have condemned a far-right politician who called for the screening of Jews for “national security risks”.
Marton Gyongyosi, a deputy of the far-right Jobbik party, said in Parliament on Monday that the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict presented an opportune occasion for his plan.
He said: “I think now is the time to assess … how many people of Jewish origin there are here, and especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who represent a certain national security risk for Hungary.”
Mr Gyongyosi made his comments while criticising Hungary’s foreign ministry for siding with Israel and failing to step up in defence of Palestinians’ rights.
About 550,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust during the Second World War. The country’s Jewish population is estimated at 100,000 today.
Members of Jobbik,which is the second-largest opposition party in Parliament, have repeatedly made racist comments targeting mostly Jews and Hungary’s largest minority, the Roma.
Yesterday, the government said it “most categorically condemns” Mr Gyongyosi’s remarks. The largest opposition group, the Socialist Party, called for stricter laws against hate speech.
Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover announced plans to allow sanctions against deputies for statements or acts similar to Mr Gyongyosi’s.
Mr Gyongyosi made a qualified apology, saying his call to screen Jews was directed only at dual Hungarian-Israeli citizens.
Rabbi Slomo Koves, of Hungary’s Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community, described Mr Gyongyosi’s proposal as “a chemically pure form of Nazism” and said he would file a complaint to prosecutors.