Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog will be in Washington, D.C. this Thursday for the opening of two exhibitions hosted by the Hungarian Embassy: “Cross-in-Fire — Persecution of Christians in the Middle East” and “From the Roma Holocaust to the 1956 Revolution”.
The invitation describes the exhibitions as follows:
- Cross-in-Fire — Persecution of Christians in the Middle East — “In the cradle of Christianity, survival of Christian communities of two thousand years is now endangered. The Cross-in-Fire exhibition focuses on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, exploring causes and outlining consequences.”
- From the Roma Holocaust to the 1956 Revolution — “The exhibition on the Roma community commemorates the Roma Holocaust (Pharrajimos) and explains the role of the Roma community in 20th Century Hungary, including in the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight.”
Balog’s presence at the latter is interesting in light of comments made by Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources in 2014 denying Hungarian Roma were deported to concentration camps.
Those electing to attend the opening may care to pose the following questions to Minister Balog and Ambassador to the US László Szabó:
Religious discrimination in Hungary
- What about state-sponsored discrimination against certain Christian faiths in Hungary? In particular, attendees might ask about Fidesz’s controversial Church Law of 2011. This law stripped numerous churches of their state-recognized church status, and limited their ability to solicit deductible donations and collect church-related subsidies. The law has been ruled unconstitutional by Hungary’s own Constitutional Court and as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights. And yet it remains on the books to this day.
Voting rights of Hungary’s Roma community
- What about the voting rights of Hungary’s Roma community? Per the OSCE’s monitoring of Hungary’s 2014 general election: the election was free but not fair. In addition to a multitude of problems the OSCE found, one very significant issue concerned the voting rights of Hungary’s Roma.
“Affirmative measures in favour of minority voters gave them the opportunity to register for a separate minority voting process. By having to publicly register, and given that only one choice was available on the ballot for minority lists, their choice was limited and secrecy of the vote was violated. As well, the measures did not appear to enhance their participation or visibility in the process,” the OSCE wrote.
Use the exhibit opening to ask questions!
The Hungarian government has done much to deflect its inhumane (and many would say un-Christian) treatment of asylum-seekers. One such mechanism for deflection is to simply change the subject to Christians in the Middle East and how they are the real victims of violent extremism.
The government claims the refugee crisis must be solved at its place of origin, that is, in the countries they are fleeing, the notion being that refugees and asylum-seekers ought to return home and tough it out until things get better.
The Hungarian public is being bombarded with sentiments such as these against a backdrop of xenophobic propaganda that portrays the refugee crisis as a sinister attempt engineered and financed by George Soros and his minions to import millions of Muslim “terrorists” into Europe, allegedly for the purpose of undermining national sovereignty and destroying Europe’s Christian heritage.
Certain government policies and a nefarious system for funding state-recognized churches and their aid organizations have prevented many churches and Christian aid organizations from providing assistance to those in need. To all intents and purposes, the nationalistic, populist government of Viktor Orbán is effectively pressuring Christian churches not to honor the basic tenets of Christianity, including an obligation to help those in need even if they are different from us.
With respect to Hungary’s Roma, it is important to note the anti-Roma sentiments promulgated by Hungary’s so-called center-right government which, judging from its rhetoric and behavior of late, has come more and more to resemble that of an extreme right-wing party. In 2015, seeking to justify his government’s decision not to provided refuge to asylum-seekers, the prime minister stated that Hungary would never seek to impose the country’s 700,000 Roma on other European countries.
There is still state-sanctioned segregation in Hungary. The Hungarian government lavishes high state honors on avowed anti-Semites and anti-Roma publicists. Cities are allowed to use extremely discriminatory housing policies to rid themselves of the Roma. Roma residents of certain municipalities have even, on occasion, been denied access to fresh water.