Hungarian educator, writer, philanthropist and human rights advocate Nóra L. Ritók announced on Tuesday that she is returning her state award in protest of Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer receiving the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary on August 20th, Hungary’s national day.
A well-known author whose blog “On the edge of poverty” chronicles her life among the poor living in the impoverished Hungarian countryside, Ritók posted the following explanation to her Facebook page:
“I never felt that with this award I belonged to a community. Now, however, I feel that there is a group among the decorated who are forming a community based on principle, and I wish to belong to it. To be one of those who are returning their Knight’s Cross after the decoration of Zsolt Bayer.
At first I hesitated for the simple reason that I felt I was not part of it because I did not receive the award from the current government but from another one whose views on human rights I agreed with.
“Since I received the award for the charity work and my affirmative action educational activities, I felt I could elevate the symbolic message of returning the medal if I did it at the start of the school year. In this way, I could call attention to what is happening in education. I could point out the downside of the government’s educational policies so receptive to Zsolt Bayer’s ethical system, in particular the possibility for segregated education that it ensures, but everything else as well creating hatred and exclusion in our society via visible and invisible channels with unworthy communication in a manner that affects our children both directly and indirectly.”
The founder of the “True Pearl” foundation joins a growing list of notable Hungarians who have either returned their state award to President János Áder or donated their medals to a charity for auction.