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How not to protest - Scarlet Letters

Jun. 6th, 2009 02:32 pm How not to protest

It seems that, somewhat sadly and certainly ironically, EU elections across Europe are being used to vent local frustrations. Individual national establishments are to be punished for their perceived corruption, lack of accountability, and culpability in the current economic collapse. Britain's not above this either, certainly if this charming column by Kelvin MacKenzie is anything to go by. The trend is towards the extremes. Exit polls from the Netherlands suggest a coup for the right wing, with the far-right Party for Freedom taking second place. Hungary, too, looks certain to have extreme right representation.

Every spare inch of Budapest is plastered with posters of smiling shiny people looking boldly into the future. Some are already ripped or graffitied, some pasted afresh after the last late night assault. To judge from sheer numbers, by far the most enthusiastic glue-bucketers support the extreme-right Jobbik party's distressingly sane-looking candidate, Dr Krisztina Morvai. I was heartened to see a fight-back yesterday – the artistic addition of glowing green eyes, and a big black swastika.

Jobbik's website makes much of the 'slanders' against its name. Morvai refused The Sunday Telegraph an interview for its “peddling of outright lies and malicious fabrication”; fancy having the audacity to claim that “Jobbik has been linked by mainstream Hungarian politicians to anti-Semitism and a wave of anti-gipsy violence that has claimed the lives of seven Roma during attacks that involved grenades, petrol bombs and gunfire.” The Hungarian National Guard

Like the modern-day British National Party, Jobbik goes out of its way to present itself merely the party that addresses those uncomfortable racial questions no-one else has the guts to address – cuddly, compassionate far-right conservatism with nary a cudgel to be seen. Except, of course, when Jobbik shows its other face – although it brushes off any claims that its uniformed, jackbooted militia, the Hungarian Guard, are anything more sinister than loyal patriots in national folk costume. Here's a picture of them marching with a banner saying “Down with the dogma of the Holocaust”. Hmm.

The party's website has a useful page with maps detailing serious alleged attacks both by and against the Roma people in Hungary. Attacks on Roma are described in a detached, news-like tone. A large number turn out not be racially motivated at all – in fact, conveniently, the perpetrators themselves often turn out to be Roma, usually motivated by usury crime, and “as usury crime is widespread in Hungary, the racist theory is wearing thinner by the day”. In one arson case a swastika and threatening words were daubed on a wall, but “the painted (and not sprayed!) swastika was in opposite direction and the threatening words contained serious grammar mistakes. Tiszaroff is mainly populated by Romas and it would be hard to sneak there (even during night due to the dogs) for the alleged "racist" arzenist (sic).”

I don't know about you, but that sure puts my mind at rest.

The second map sports different categories to the first - “Roma mob” and “Rape/ robbery”, but no sign of “Bogus/ minor”. There seem to be a lot more cases too. The “allegedly”s grow thinner and the strict recourse to such technicalities as evidence fades. Try this one for size: “An old couple were brutally beaten and robbed in their own house in Miskolc. Police later captured the Roma perpetrators. Miskolc Police Chief Albert Pasztor stated in a press conference later that "all serious robberies in Miskolc are committed by Romas".”

Jobbik is a party that, for all its gloss, speaks of reuniting “Greater Hungary” after the stab in the back of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, boasts of its recent meeting with the BNP, and is fundamentally opposed to the supranationalist concept. I am far from a fervent cheerleader for the European project, but the presence of such neanderthals in the EU parliament can only render it a farce.

Edit 08/ 06/ 09: Jobbik received nearly 15% of votes cast.

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3 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:June 7th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
The BNP in the UK are on the up and up, too.

People are fed up with greedy, dishonest politicians in Brussels telling them what to do. That's not to say the Far Right parties are more honest than anyone else, but there seems to be a Europe-wide propogation of Xenophobia and anti-EU feeling. Except in France. They still seem to think it's the best thing since sliced bread.

However, it's kind of understandable when you think that we're in a global recession and there are immigrants coming from East Europe to the West who are cheap labour and taking jobs from locals.

since Romania joined Europe, there has been such an influx of Roma gypsies in Paris that it's almost impossible to avoid. And many of these gypsies have been violent when refused money. With this in mind, it's easy to understand why the rest of Europe is becoming anti-EU.
Date:June 7th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure this is anything to do with being anti-EU. I think most people just don't see how it matters, so why not register a protest vote? In fact, Hungary needs the EU, particularly in its current economic hole.

For me the Roma issue has to be a question of which came first, the marginalisation or the marginalised attitude. One of the things I find most uncomfortable about being here is how casually otherwise nice, friendly people can drop in an ugly comment or joke about gypsies. Are all equally desperate non-gypsies begging on the streets a model of good behaviour?

The area around Avignon is adorned with a shocking amount of Front National graffiti.
Date:June 8th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Avignon is a VERY FN area. My in-laws are from there and they're vvv right wing. Sarko can do no wrong as far as my mother-in-law is concerned. I think it's to do with the high number of North Africans in Provence.

Most of my friends from the Avignon area see themselves as liberal, but start them about the Arabs and it goes so Neo-Nazi it's scary. That said, when you know certain areas of Avignon and Cavaillon (the second biggest town in the dept) are no go areas for non-Arabs, you can see why they don't like it.

Unfortunately there's been no intergration on either side. The Arabs keep to their own communties and the whites don't want to know. Also, the HLM areas are highly populated with immigrants and they are real ghettos. I went to Aldi in an HLM area and didn't stay too long. My car was being eyed up by some unsavoury characters and, as a woman, I didn't feel safe there.

That's the real problem. Lack of intergration.

If we look at what happened in Bradford a few years back, it was because the Arab and white communities had been kept apart and mistrust had grown. However, in Rochdale, the council had forced people to intergrate, making the community just that; a community.

Ghettoisation is the cause of a lot of these problems. Not knowing our neighbour and being scared to.