Hungarian anti-Roma marches – You are going to die here

“YOU are going to die here,” shouted members of a 1,000-strong march as they stopped at houses they thought were a home to Roma, hurling their water bottles and stones to emphasise their point. On August 5th, Devecser, a village in western Hungary, was inundated by neo-Nazis. In a village of little more than 5,000, most of the indignant mob was bused in. Devecser is sadly notorious: two years ago it was hit by a wall of caustic red sludge when the retaining wall of a waste reservoir of a nearby aluminium plant collapsed. The disaster killed four and injured 120. The leaders of the groups marching included Gabor Ferenczi of Jobbik, a far-right party that won 16% of the vote in the last election in 2010. The party, though no stranger to such set-piece confrontations, had previously shied away from sharing a podium with certain neo-Nazi groups. This time was different. Zsolt Tyirityán, a leading figure in the Outlaw Army, stood in front of the village church arguing for racial warfare and the need to “exterminate Roma from public life”. Devecser’s mayor, Tamas Toldi, a member of the ruling rightist Fidesz party, says he was unable to stop the gathering, which he had been told was a peace march. Mr Toldi says he was “really angry” at the speeches, but it would have been “unwise” to try and stop proceedings in mid-flow because the police would not have been able to assert their authority. The 200 or so on duty were mustered locally and not trained or equipped to deal with an angry hoard of neo-Nazis. Not a peep of condemnation has come from Fidesz, which controls a two-thirds majority in parliament. With an election due in early 2014, Fidesz, which has lost voters to Jobbik, knows that there are hardly any votes in standing up for the Roma. The party also doesn’t want to alienate its lunatic fringe or create a barrier to Jobbik voters who might be tempted to switch to Fidesz. “At the time we were really scared,” says Ibolya Domotor, one of four elderly Roma women sitting in the shade of a tree on a street the march passed through. Roma and Hungarians have rubbed along there for decades without serious problems, she says. A police patrol is reassuring, as long as it lasts. It all began with a slanging match down the street when a Roma driver was blocked by a car on July 23rd. Two days later the row escalated into two bloody scuffles, allegedly involving knives, baseball bats and spades.

via economist: Hungarian anti-Roma marches – You are going to die here

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