BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — More than 1,000 Jews marched through Budapest’s Old Ghetto district on Tuesday in response to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in the lead-up to Hungary’s elections.
The marchers defied a police recommendation to keep a low profile, marching in the neighborhood of the Great Dohány Street Synagogue wearing yarmulkes. The police recommendation was issued last week, after the windows of Rabbi Shmuel Raskin were stoned in the same district during a Passover Seder.
Over the last week, anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in various places in Budapest, a Holocaust memorial was damaged in the western Hungarian city of Zalaegerszeg, and neo-Nazis held an anti-Semitic rally in the eastern city of Tiszaeszlár, where a notorious blood libel against the local Jewish community led to pogroms in 1882-83.
Organized by the Free Folks for Hungary movement and the Association of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities, the Budapest demonstration was secured by the police and no violence was reported.
Jews have expressed concern about anti-Semitic overtones in the national election campaign. In election set for April 11, with a possible runoff on April 25, the ruling party Socialist party is expected to be toppled by the country’s main Conservative party. A far-right party is also expected to score significant gains. Hungary’s Jews traditionally vote center-left.