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Budapest anti-Semitism rally draws tens of thousands

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(JTA) — Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Budapest against anti-Semitism, as Hungarian police prevented a neo-Nazi demonstration for the third time in two weeks.

The march Sunday against anti-Semitism was part of the annual March of the Living, which usually draws a few thousand people who commemorate the victims of the Holocaust with a solemn walk along the Danube River. 

This year, however, tens of thousands showed up with Israeli and European Union flags in what many said was a tour de force against the ideas promoted by the ultranationalist Jobbik party and neo-Nazi fringe groups, Reuters reported. 

In parallel, police banned a group of extreme-rightist bikers from holding a rally in front of the city’s main synagogue during the March of the Living event. The biker group had been refused a permit earlier this month for a rally under the slogan “give gas” — a possible reference to the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. 

Over the past few weeks, several fringe groups have requested permission to hold a protest against the planned gathering next month of the World Jewish Congress plenary meeting in Budapest. 

On Saturday, police officers in Pecs, in southern Hungary, detained 18 people who police said belonged to the Pax Hungarica movement and participated in a rally in honor of what would have been Adolf Hitler’s 124th birthday on April 20. They were charged with disturbing public order, according to a report by the MTI Hungarian news service.

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