BUDAPEST (JTA) — Elie Wiesel urged Hungary’s leaders to do more to combat racism and anti-Semitism, and also to consider banning Holocaust denial.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who in 1944 was deported to Auschwitz from a town, Sighet, which at the time was in Hungary, spoke Wednesday at a "Jewish Hungarian Solidarity Symposium" of Hungarian political and Jewish leaders held at Parliament.
"I urge you to do even more to denounce anti-Semitic elements and racist expressions in your political environment and in certain publications," the 81-year-old Holocaust survivor and human rights activist said. "I believe that they bring shame to your nation, and they bring fear to its Jewish community and other minorities, such as the Roma."
He added, "I ask you, why don’t you follow the example of France and Germany and declare Holocaust denial not only indecent but illegal? In those countries, Holocaust deniers go to jail."
In recent years there have been violent attacks on Gypsies in Hungary, and the far-right, xenophobic, anti-Israel Jobbik Party has made strong electoral gains.
Wiesel was in Budapest for ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in the Hungarian capital.