(JTA) — The umbrella organization representing Hungarian Jews condemned a leading politician’s anti-Roma diatribe.
Zsolt Bayer, a founding member of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, has drawn fire for a newspaper column in which he likened the country’s Roma minority to animals.
"Most Gypsies are not suitable for cohabitation," Bayer wrote in the Jan. 5 edition of Magyar Hirlap. "They are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals, and behave like animals. They shouldn’t be tolerated or understood, but stamped out. Animals should not exist. In no way.”
Bayer in the past has referred to Jews "as stinking excrement called something like Cohen," according to the World Jewish Congress.
"Each and every statement that stigmatizes a group of people by their origin and ranks them as animals is against God’s commandments and the norms of civilized societies," the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (Mazsihisz) said in a statement which called on all Hungarians to speak out against such manifestations of racism.
Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics strongly condemned the article and said Fidesz had no room for anyone "who labels a group of people as animals."
Opposition parties urged Fidesz to expel Bayer.
Fidesz spokeswoman Gabriella Selmeczi said at a news conference on Jan. 8 that the party would not take a position on the basis of an opinion piece.