Neo-Nazi group demonstrates in Budapest
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Neo-Nazi group demonstrates in Budapest

BUDAPEST (JTA) — A mass demonstration by the banned neo-Nazi Hungarian Guard organization degenerated into a battle with police.

Saturday night’s clash led to some 20 injuries and 216 arrests.

Gabor Vona, chairman of the radical rightist Jobbik party and paymaster of the Guard, was detained overnight and released Sunday. The injured included a television cameraman and a news agency reporter assaulted by the Guard. More than 15 demonstrators were hospitalized.

Police used tear-gas to disperse the crowd. The Guard responded by throwing projectiles and calling the police "filthy Jews." 

Uniformed guardsmen forming the core of the demonstration numbered about 200, roughly matched by the police deployment. But the crowd was swelled by a group of about 1,000 Guard supporters representing several far-Right political organizations.

The demonstration had been called in protest against Thursday’s decision by a Budapest appeals court, ordering the mandatory disbanding of the Guard Participants also demanded the early release of Gyorgy Budahazy, a radical Rightist political activist arrested in June on terrorism charges.

Police had rejected several proposed venues for the demonstration. It was finally held, without authorization, in a square adjacent to the traditional Old Jewish Ghetto quarter.

At a late stage of the demonstration, the Guardsmen linked arms and sat on the ground, compelling the police to remove them each individually. That was when Vona arrived, moved up to the line of the police and sat among the waiting Guardsmen.