February 24, 2016 / 4:51 PM / 4 years ago

Hungary protest prevents unveiling of statue for anti-Jewish World War II politician

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A group of around 100 protesters prevented the unveiling of a statue of a Hungarian politician in Budapest on Wednesday, saying he promoted racist views during World War Two.

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities also objected, saying in a statement that Gyorgy Donath’s anti-Semitic views meant he was unworthy of the statue, erected only a few steps away from Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Center.

Donath, a member of parliament between 1939 and 1944, created a right-wing movement that promoted the exclusion of Jews from important roles in public life.

“The disgraceful political role of Gyorgy Donath cannot be ignored even if he became victim of communism in a show trial in which he was sentenced to death,” the Jewish community said.

The protesters, who shouted and played loud music, prevented former conservative Prime Minister Peter Boross and a deputy chairman of the ruling Fidesz party, Gergely Gulyas, from speaking at the unveiling of the statue, which was erected by an association of former political prisoners.

The politicians left the scene after protesters held up banners saying “We don’t want racists” and “Those who celebrate racists are racists themselves” amid a heavy police presence.

In December, Hungary scrapped plans to erect a statue of Balint Homan, a former World War Two government minister who supported anti-Semitism in Hungary in the 1930s and 40s, after protests from Jewish leaders.

Gulyas did not respond to emailed questions by Reuters.

He was cited as saying on local news portal Origo.hu that while he did not agree with views that excluded minorities, Donath was a martyr and deserved to have a statue in Budapest.

Gulyas is a supporter of Hungary’s pugnacious Prime Minister Viktor Orban. His right-wing government came to power in 2010 and has gained public support with a tough stance on migration.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Katharine Houreld

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