(JTA) — Award-winning Hungarian-Jewish writer Akos Kertesz has confirmed that he has applied for political asylum in Canada.
Harassment and threats following the author’s controversial statements last summer about Hungary’s role in the Holocaust have led him to seek asylum in Canada, the Hungarian News Agency reported. Kertesz, 80, the winner of the Hungary’s most prestigious literary prize, the Kossuth, left for Canada last week.
Kertesz’s news service said in a statement released to the media that “a political campaign was mounted against him, not only by the Budapest city hall but also from within the government and parliament.”
Writing in the American Hungarian-language newspaper Amerikai Nepszava, Kertesz said that Hungarians alone can now be blamed for the Holocaust because they, unlike the Germans, have failed to admit to and to repent for their crimes. He also referred to Hungarians as “genetically subservient” because they “do not feel the slightest remorse for the gravest of historical crimes, they shift their responsibility to others and always put the blame on others.”
Kertesz later cut the phrase “genetically subservient” from the article, but it did not prevent the Budapest City Council from stripping the writer of his honorary citizenship. His statement also said that the current right-wing government has “launched a witch hunt and fueled the extremists,” and that he has been “subject to constant harassment and threats; he was attacked in the street and he thought his life was in jeopardy.”