Hungarian Jewish Leader Seeks Orban Meeting on 'Mixed Race' Remark

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities' request follows controversial remarks from Prime Minister Orban, who said Hungarians 'do not want to become peoples of mixed races'

Reuters
Reuters
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Hungary President Viktor Orban arrives at the NATO Heads of State summit in Madrid, last month.
Hungary President Viktor Orban arrives at the NATO Heads of State summit in Madrid, last month.Credit: Bertrand Guay /AP
Reuters
Reuters

A leading Hungarian Jewish group, citing tragic memories, said on Monday that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had triggered serious concerns when on Saturday he said Hungarians "do not want to become peoples of mixed race."

Mazsihisz, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, issued a statement saying its leader Andras Heisler had asked for a meeting with Orban. The Hungarian government was not immediately reachable for comment.

More than half a million Hungarian Jews were systematically exterminated during the Nazi Holocaust in World War Two. Today, there are about 75,000 to 100,000 Jews in Hungary, most of them in Budapest.

In its statement Mazsihisz said Orban's words "triggered serious concerns within the Jewish community."

"Based on our historical experiences and our family stories living with us, it is important to raise our voice against expressions in Hungarian public life that are prone to misunderstanding," the group said.

Hungary's Chief Rabbi Robert Frolich posted on his Facebook page: "On two feet, working, speaking and sometimes thinking there is only one race on this Planet: the Homo Sapiens."

Orban has referred to maintaining "ethnic homogeneity" in previous speeches, taken a hard line on immigration – even erecting a barbed-wire fence on Hungary's southern border – and imposed laws assailed by human rights groups.

In a speech on Saturday in Romania, Orban said the international left in western Europe "employs a feint, an ideological ruse: the claim – their claim – that Europe by its very nature is populated by peoples of mixed race."

"There is a world in which European peoples are mixed together with those arriving from outside Europe. Now that is a mixed-race world," Orban said.

"And there is our world, where people from within Europe mix with one another, move around, work and relocate. So, for example, in the Carpathian Basin we are not mixed-race: we are simply a mixture of peoples living in our own European homeland. This is why we have always fought: we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race."

Orban's anti-immigration measures have kept out migrants and helped his Fidesz party win elections in 2018 and 2022, but led to repeated clashes with the European Commission.

His language appears fashioned to absorb a policy on the far right abandoned by the radical opposition party Jobbik, which has moderated its message and lost much of its support in recent years.

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