“The government regards us as mushrooms: it keeps us in the dark and feeds us (manure).”
“The Hungarian nation does not hate you, only the Hungarian government. The Hungarian government claims it represents the Hungarian people, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Hungarian government does not speak for the Hungarian people. We reject the government’s xenophobic politics.”
– Lajos Bokros, Chairman, Movement for a Modern Hungary
Some 200 people attended a demonstration in front of parliament organized by the Movement for a Modern Hungary (MOMA) Wednesday afternoon in protest of the government’s xenophobic politics. Party founder and chairman Lajos Bokros believes the government’s policies “belong on the garbage heap of history”.
”The reason we have come together today is to express that we have had enough of targetting people as enemies,” explained MOMA vice-president Erzsébet Pusztai in her opening speech, adding that “we have had enough of the cynical stupidity”.
Writer and public commentator Rudolf Ungváry then called the protesters` attention to the fact that unimaginable political circumstances and poverty exist in the third world. “As the inheritors of humanism and enlightenment we have an obligation to express solidarity with every fallen person,” said the writer, adding that “we must be able to help fellow humans who are refugees”. Acknowledging that “we have reason to fear that more and more waves of refugees await us,” Ungváry told the small crowd “we must do everything in our power to find a solution, however difficult that may be”.
He said refugees are being used to foment anti-foreigner sentiment by those who deny their political opponents are Hungarian, plunder the country and have captured the state and eliminated the system of checks and balances.
“(Prime Minister) Orban’s message is that we hate”, said Ungváry, who believes the government’s objective is for dispossessed Hungarians to vent their anger and frustration on refugees rather than on the government.
He observed that the “mendacious anti-refugee campaign has clearly failed” and “believers in democracy” had found “a successful mutual response”, to which the government was now responding with “infinite baseness”.
Ungváry used the occasion of his speech to send a message to German conservatives. “Just as Chamberlain could not change Hitler, the Orbán system cannot be changed,” said the writer, adding that Fidesz should be kicked out of the European People’s Party.
Lajos Bokros started his speech by explaining that they had invited all the Hungarian democratic parties and civil organizations to the demonstration. The former minister of finance said the message of the day was not only for Hungarian citizens but for international public opinion as well.
“The government regards us as mushrooms: it keeps us in the dark and feeds us shit,’” said the MOMA chairman, who is not in the habit of using such strong language. Bokros said that what is on the government billboards is a “reflection of a base, evil, xenophobic, exploitative, outdated, shameless thought”.
He criticized the three slogans appearing on the government billboards. With regard to the slogan “If you come to Hungary, you cannot take Hungarian work”, Bokros pointed out that it was the government itself that is depriving Hungarians of jobs, “as evidenced by the fact that half a million people have left Hungary”. He called attention to the fact that in most places migrants create workplaces “but for this you need good governance”. He mentioned the example of a Lebanese Arab friend of his who opened a restaurant in Nádor street that employs five people and pays taxes in Hungary.
“Where the population is in decline and aging, who will pay the pensions?” asked Bokros, who believes that it is in the country’s own interest to admit economic migrants. “This billboard is a lie, an evil and a forgery” he said, tearing up the copy he held in his hands.
In response to the second slogan, “If you come to Hungary, you must respect the culture”, Bokros quoted the founder of the Hungarian state, Saint Stephen, who warned his son that:
A country that speaks only one language and has only one set of customers is weak and vulnerable. For this reason I order you, my son, that you appreciate and respect the fact that they would prefer to reside with you than live elsewhere.
The former minister of finance said that the fact Orbán himself stated he did not like multiculturalism means he does not want to see Hungarian culture in Slovakia, Romania, western Ukraine or northern Serbia, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Hungarians continue to reside. “Slovakia for the Slovakians, Transylvania for the Romanians, Subcarpathia for the Ukrainians and Vojvodina for the Serbs. Is that what we want? asked Bokros, tearing up the second billboard.
“If you come to Hungary, you need to respect our laws!” was the third and final slogan Bokros publicly criticized, pointing out that section 332 of the criminal code forbids fomenting hatred of a community. “The Hungarian government is seriously violating this point in a despicable way,” he said. Tearing up the third poster, Bokros announced that MOMA planned to formally file a complaint with the authorities. “We’ll send it to the police. We’re curious to see what they do with it.”
Pointing out that “it is unlikely that those who are presently coming from Syria, Sudan or Eritrea for fear of their lives speak Hungarian,” Bokros proceeded to state the following in Hungarian and English:
The Hungarian nation does not hate you, only the Hungarian government. The Hungarian government is trying to identify itself with the Hungarian people, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Hungarian government does not speak for the Hungarian people. We reject the government’s xenophobic politics.
Bokros pointed out that officially sanctioned persecution in Weimar Germany led to the Nazis coming to power, then to “krystallnacht” (“The night of broken glass” when the government instigated attacks on Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria-ed.), and eventually to genocide.
“The Hungarian government has stepped out onto a slippery slope,” said Bokros. Many believe the entire refugee question is just a “rubber bone” intended to divert public attention from a crisis that was not merely economic but ethical and cultural as well, said the MOMA chairman.
Bokros concluded by announcing that his party “proudly and with raised head declares that it completely rejects the destructive politics of this government, and that the place for such politics is on the garbage heap of history.” He closed with the words “Long live modern Hungary and a multicultural, multilingual Europe”.
The demonstration concluded with a singing of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, the anthem of the European Union.
In an interview given to Budapest Beacon editor and correspondent Péter Szegő, Bokros referred to the government as “neo-communist”, “fascist” and “mafioso”.