Thousands attended an anti-Nazi rally Sunday in Hungary organized by Jewish and civic groups to protest a far-right lawmaker’s call to screen Jews for national security risks.
The rally was unusual because politicians from both the government and opposition parties shared a stage outside parliament.
Gyongyosi later apologized to “our Jewish compatriots” for his statement, but added that Hungary needed to be wary of “Zionist Israel and those serving it also from here.”
Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Hungary’s Jewish population is now estimated at 100,000.
Antal Rogan, parliamentary faction leader of the governing Fidesz party, addressed the crowd, which Hungarian media estimated at over 10,000 people.
“I came because in this situation I cannot stay quiet,” Rogan said. “Hungary defends its citizens.”
Rogan said he would take his two sons to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where it is estimated that one-third of the Nazis’ victims were Hungarian.
Some posters held by protesters mocked Gyongyosi by showing him with a Hitler moustache and the crowd chanted “Jobbik go away!”
Attila Mesterhazy said his opposition Socialist Party would boycott Parliament’s foreign affairs committee as long as Gyongyosi remained its vice chairman. He also called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to address the issue in Parliament next week.
Jobbik president Gabor Vona, however, said the protest was part of an “artificially induced campaign of lies” meant to divert attention away from Hungary’s economic problems and that the groups that took part in the rally wanted to “destroy” Jobbik.
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