BUDAPEST (JTA) — Police in riot gear broke up a recruiting meeting of the outlawed neo-Nazi Hungarian Guard.
Some 50 uniformed guardsmen were on hand last Friday at a beer hall at Csepel, a poor industrial suburb of the Hungarian capital, when some 200 police arrived to break up the meeting to launch a national recruitment campaign.
The commander of the Guard called for reinforcement, and some 400 guardsmen were rushed to the scene, but diplomatic bargaining ended the confrontation. Police made three arrests.
A landmark court ruling earlier this year banned the paramilitary Guard, the private army of the extreme nationalist Jobbik Party. The Guard displays the colors and marches to the tunes of the defunct Arrow Cross, a Hungarian movement that murdered thousands of Jews, Gypsies and political dissidents during the Holocaust. The ruling also banned the uniform.
Csepel council members are organizing an all-party motion to reinforce an earlier local government decision declaring the Guard “unwelcome” in the district. This follows a brawl last week at Sajobabony in the impoverished northeast of Hungary where hundreds of Guardsmen and their supporters clashed with Gypsy residents outraged by racist attitudes expressed at a Jobbik public meeting.
Krisztina Morvai, a Jobbik deputy at the European Parliament who occasionally wears the Guard uniform, says the Guard’s style innocently reflects Hungarian folk culture. Morvai was scheduled to address a London conference in December organized by the Palestinian Return Centre, but her invitation was withdrawn last week when her extremist attitudes on race relations became known.