BUDAPEST (JTA) — Pro-democracy and anti-fascist organizations in Hungary held a joint demonstration to protest the rise of neo-Nazi agitation in Eastern Europe.
The rally Saturday marking the anniversary of the liberation of Budapest from Nazi occupation 65 years ago was attended by several leaders of the ruling Socialist minority government as well as municipal and civic dignitaries. Absent, however, were representatives of Hungarian right-wing political parties that are expected to make huge gains in April’s parliamentary elections.
Another demonstration also had been organized for the same day by an international coalition of neo-Nazis, but it was banned by the police and provisionally postponed until March. Its organizers, including the Hungarian National Front, planned to honor the German and Hungarian defenders of the city who made their last stand against the victorious Soviet invaders at Buda Castle on Feb. 11, 1945.
The pro-democracy rally took place in an elegant Jewish district at the Pest side of the Danube River, the scene of nightly mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust. The organizers of the rally included the Civil Movement Against Fascism, the Anti-Fascist League, the New Socialist Movement and the Network of Feminist Left.
A significant police presence secured the event, which was attended by a few hundred supporters, most of them Jewish. Peter Nemeth, editor in chief of the daily Nepszava newspaper, blamed the low turnout on the growing fear by ordinary citizens of verbal or physical neo-Nazi abuse.