Holocaust survivor’s daughter protests against Hungarian government

This 5 September 2016 video says about itself:

Hungary award returned after ‘racist’ writer honoured

The daughter of a former US congressman who survived the Holocaust has returned a distinguished award to Hungary in protest at its decision to honour a writer accused of anti-Semitism. Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, had been honoured for work with minorities. She said granting the same award to writer Zsolt Bayer had “sullied” the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit.

She said he “deserved censure not honour for his loathsome writings”. Ms Lantos Swett is the latest of about 100 recipients of Hungarian state awards to have returned them in protest at the decision to honour Bayer.

She has said she hopes her actions will make the Hungarian government think twice about associating itself with the newspaper columnist, who has compared the country’s large Roma population to animals and said all Muslims older than 14 were “potential murderers”. The writer has also written many articles condemned by critics as anti-Semitic.

‘Exemplary’ Katrina Lantos Swett had received the Knight’s Cross in 2009 for her work in setting up the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest which focuses on minority rights. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington earlier urged Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and President Janos Ader, who respectively nominated and granted the award to Bayer to “immediately” rescind it. Bayer, who is a member of Mr Orban’s Fidesz party, received the award for his “exemplary journalistic activities”, which have included writing about the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and the fate of Hungarian prisoners in the Soviet Union.

Another video used to say about itself:

Dozens of Hungarian award recipients return orders to protest ‘racist’ journalist’s receipt of same

23 August 2016

Over 40 Hungarian public figures that have received the country’s third-highest decoration in the past have returned their orders in protest of the government awarding it to a controversial right-wing journalist who has been deemed racist by his critics.

Zsolt Bayer, 53, was among several Hungarians who were awarded the Order of Merit of the Knight’s Cross by President Janos Ader last Thursday. However, the decision to honor the controversial figure sparked a wave of protest among left-leaning recipients of the decoration who see him as racist and anti-Semite, and dozens decided to return their awards rather than be found in the same group as Bayer.

The prominent journalist, who writes columns for the pro-government Magyar Hirlap daily, as well as in his own blog, is notorious in Hungary for his strongly worded comments targeting various minorities, which are sometimes seen as crossing the line.

The newspaper was fined in 2013 over an anti-Roma piece in which Bayer called them “animals unfit for coexistence” … . Years later, the newspaper was fined again for publishing remarks in which Bayer claimed that all refugee boys over 14 are “potential” terrorists. Commenting on Bayer’s award, businessman Andras Polgar, one of those returning the order, said “The state feels it is appropriate to lift racist criminals onto a pedestal… it is impossible to tolerate this with a sober, decent conscience,” as cited by Hungarian Free Press.

András Heisler, leader of Hungary’s main Jewish community organization and another recipient returning his decoration, said Bayer “harbors burning anti-Gypsy sentiment” and that he “pollutes Hungary with ideas that are fit to destroy the nation.”

The headline of one of the articles criticizing the move read: “By mistake Zsolt Bayer received lovagkereszt (the cross of the knight) instead of horogkereszt (the swastika).”

The Hungarian government defended its decision, saying that Bayer had been awarded for his work protecting victims of communist oppression in Hungary.

… Mária Schmidt, who is the director of the Hungarian capital’s House of Terror Museum, said on her Facebook page: “The Knight’s Cross was received by the Christian crusader who does not allow us to lose our values, traditions, sensibilities, and common sense! I congratulate Zsolt Bayer on his Knight’s Cross!”

Bayer has close ties with the Hungarian government. He was among the 37 Hungarian students that founded the now-ruling Fidesz party back in 1988, and is a personal friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Both have made critical remarks about the European Union and the way it is handling the refugee crisis.

Translated from Belgian (right wing) daily Het Laatste Nieuws:

Daughter of Holocaust survivor gives back Hungarian award in protest

5/09/16 – 2:29

Katrina Lantos Swett has returned a prestigious award that she received for her work with minorities in Hungary after the country decided to award that same prize this year to writer and journalist Zsolt Bayer. He has written racist texts several times and his work is considered by critics to be anti-Semitic.

Lantos Swett is the daughter of former US congressman Tom Lantos. He was born in Hungary and survived the Holocaust, before he began a new life in the United States. He died in 2008 and was the only congressman in US history who had lived through the Holocaust.

His daughter received the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit in 2009, after she had founded the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest, which focuses on the rights of minority groups in society.

Lantos Swett hopes the returning of the prize will make Hungary think again about rewarding Bayer, who, eg, has called the Roma community “animals” and says that all Muslims aged over 14 are “potential killers”. He has also written numerous articles that are anti-Semitic according to critics.

Holocaust Museum

The US Holocaust Museum in Washington has called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban not to award the prize to Bayer. Bayer, himself a member of Orban’s party, received the award for “outstanding journalistic activities”.

Hungarian director Ferenc Török’s 1945 is a serious effort to come to terms with the ghastliness of the Holocaust in Hungary. Co-written by Török and Gábor T. Szántó, the movie was adapted from the latter’s short story, “Homecoming”: here.

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