BUDAPEST (JTA) – A Budapest appeals court disbanded the Hungarian Guard, the private army of the neo-Nazi Jobbik political party.
Thursday’s legally binding ruling upheld a non-binding decision passed by a lower court in the capital in December. The Guard has responded by vowing to continue its activities, while seeking legal redress from the Hungarian Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The organization is modeled on the Hungarian Nazi Arrow-Cross movement that murdered many thousands of Jews as well as Roma, homosexuals and political dissidents during the Holocaust.
The appeals court directed the Guard to disband at once on the grounds that its menacing, militaristic demonstrations generated ethnic tension and constituted a threat to public order. However, the ruling does not impinge on the general right of peaceful assembly.
The Guard was formed by Jobbik in 2007. Its black uniforms, fancy regalia and marching discipline have won a great following in Hungary — in line with the resurgence of East European anti-Semitism, a phenomenon attributed to rising insecurity fuelled by the recession.
Jobbik is widely expected to make substantial gains in Hungary’s parliamentary elections, due within a year. It insists that the Guard is strictly unarmed.
However, JTA has learned that many Guard members have equipped themselves with concealed viperas — potentially lethal expandable steel batons deployed by many police forces but outlawed in Hungary.