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An unlikely demonstration: Fidesz protested against racism and discrimination

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2020.01.31. 20:28

On Thursday evening, the first protest of the year took place in Budapest, but in an unusual turn of events, it was not the opposition, but supporters of Hungary's governing party Fidesz who gathered in front of district VII's city hall calling the mayor to resign over his perceived racist comments about Fidesz's white nationalism. A reporter of hvg.hu was assaulted and protesters also insulted the camera crew of 444.hu.

Protesters called together by Hungarian governing party Fidesz gathered in front of Budapest's district VII city hall to "say no to racism and discrimination" which may sound strange from a party whose leader and Prime Minister thinks Hungary needs to preserve its ethnic homogeneity as "too much mixing causes trouble," migrants want to destroy Europe, and "mixed nations have no future," still, that is what happened.

But why?

Fidesz and the party's supporters were outraged over Democratic Coalition's (DK) district VII mayor Péter Niedermüller's remarks about white, Christian, heterosexual men (and women) being a "frightening formation." More accurately, the mayor told public affairs channel ATV in an interview that "Fidesz has no policy other than the incitement of hatred, no matter against whom," and explained:

"If you take a look at what remains after you peel away all these hatred-thingies... We talked about them: the non-Hungarians, the others, the migrants, the Romas, the I don't know whom, you are left with this frightening formation at the core: the white, Christian, heterosexual men - and women of course. This is their notion about families. The reason why that is dreadful is that if you look at what makes up the so-called white nationalists all over the world, you see that it's them."

Niedermüller's inflammatory words were first noticed and condemned by independent weekly Magyar Hang, but it was quickly picked up by pro-government media, and soon enough,

Fidesz, their youth organisation Fidelitas, and Fidesz's coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) organised a protest against racism and discrimination.

On Tuesday, Niedermüller told Index over the phone that he was talking about Fidesz's notion of the family, notably that "only white, Christian, and heterosexual relationships count," but according to him, Hungary cannot be reduced only to that, as in that picture, there is no place for marriage or adoption by same-sex couples.

On Thursday, Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyás also responded to Niedermüller's remarks at the government's weekly press conference, saying that the mayor is racist, and this sort of ideology has no place in European politics. Gulyás said he would attend the protest if he had the time, but he did not.

Journalists attacked

On Thursday evening, the mostly elderly supporters of Fidesz filled the Grand Boulevard's section stretching in front of the district VII City Hall, with only a handful of counterprotesters on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road.

During the protest, a pro-government blogger assaulted the reporter of hvg.hu, pushing him, knocking his glasses and hitting him from behind, the case is currently investigated by the police. The perpetrator is a long-time pro-government provocateur and it's not his first violent outburst, he had hit a female activist of DK in the chest when the party protested against Orbán on 23 October. The attack against HVG's András Hont is visible on the live stream of vadhajtások.hu, starting around the 3:45 mark:

Journalists of 444.hu were also insulted by the crowd; when protesters learned they are working for an independent news site, they attempted to take the reporter's microphone and yanked on their camera. 

Fidesz condemns racism against white, Christian heterosexuals

On the stage, Gergely Huth, the editor-in-chief of pro-government news site pestisracok.hu introduced the speakers, first Boglárka Illés, the chairwoman of Fidelitas.

"How long will we allow politicians who discriminate by skin colour, gender, and religion to hold public office?"

- she asked, urging Niedermüller to withdraw from public affairs, stressing that if his words are left without consequences, "the public discourse will hit another low point thanks to the leftist-liberals." 

Next up was Tristan Azbej, the deputy head of the Deputy State Secretariat Responsible for Aiding Persecuted Christians. He said it is unacceptable to attack people because of their Christian faith, as Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Azbej said that Christians are being killed in the East, while in the West, they are humiliated by Niedermüller and the like. "We have to stand up to managers of hatred," he said, adding that when his grandparents' generation could not stand up to anti-christian policies in the 40s, an era of "blood and dictatorship" ensued, and "the communists are here again, but we won't let history repeat itself."

Zsolt Bayer, a right-wing columnist infamous for his colourful language and blatant xenophobia was the protest's main speaker, who opened with a quote from Camus: 

"On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself."

Bayer said that day is here, crime calls innocence to justify itself on a daily basis, as "judges who defend violence, people who beat their teachers and want millions in compensation, those who hallucinate about an open society, those who hate traditional families, those who tear apart the fabric of society, those who deny femininity and masculinity, those who worship the distortion of the soul" are put on a pedestal and in their eyes, "we are the frightening formation," stressing: "our job is to resist."

Fidesz's communications director István Hollik said that the frightening thing is what Niedermüller said, "differentiating on the basis of skin colour and religion with no apology." He said Hungarians remember the words of John Paul II, "don't be afraid," adding that a change in government is all that is needed for fear to reign:

"Now you know what is at stake. Niedermüller and his party want to abolish the thousand-year-old legacy of Saint Stephen."

Last but certainly not least, the former deputy mayor of the district and the lawyer of PM Viktor Orbán's family, István Bajkai took to the stage. The politician said that as a Christian, he cannot shake the stigma Niedermüller put on him - it is intolerant and belittling, and the mayor "trampled on human rights." He said that in Hungary, everybody can live side by side in peace: "This is the policy of Fidesz, this is the tolerance they prescribe for everyone." He said DK is a collection of power-hungry people, anarchists who regard Christian, white, heterosexual people as enemies, and told Niedermüller to resign.

"Here we stand," Bajkai orated, "as humiliated people, and we are praying, wishing that this did not happen, a politician did not just attack us because of the colour of our skin and our sexual identity. If we do not defend ourselves, nobody will," adding that Niedermüller prefers migrants anyways.

(Cover: Protesters called together by Hungarian governing party Fidesz gathered in front of Budapest's district VII city hall. Photo: Szilli Tamás / Index)

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