Anti Fascism

Hungarian appellate court curtails Freedom of opinion

This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer

In July I published an article about courageous Hungarian journalist Tibor Bakács and biased system of justice within which he works . Incitement against Jews, Roma, the gay community and the left are permissible in Hungary and considered part of freedom of opinion. But Tibor Bakács, a journalist, has been fined by a Hungarian court for considering a gang of racist, antisemitic bikers as “fascists.”

Bakács was taken to court by the gang, who call themselves the Goj (as in “Non-Jewish”) Motorosok (as in plural of motorcyclist.) You can see the gang’s logo here and you can see two of its members wearing an antisemitic t-shirt here.”

On November 19 the appellate court of Budapest overturned the verdict of the lower court.

The court reprimanded Bakács because what Bakács said “was not a statement of fact, but the use of an expression capable of undermining the honour of the plaintiff.”

But if the statement of Bakács was not a fact, then it was a value judgment, based reasonably on underlying facts. In Hungary many fear the victory of the right wing opposition party Fidesz and of the neo-arrow cross party Jobbik, allied in many local coalitions. Probably this is the reason the court thought it must defend the honour of this motor bikers gang.

In doing so, they sent out thus send out the signal: in Hungary you can incite hatred against Gypsies, Jews, Homosexuals and leftwing people. But you are not allowed to make a value judgment on a racist gang. This is a serious curtailing of freedom of opinion, Hungarians are so proud of.

Three to four members of the Goi Motorosok were present at the trial, two of them wearing a tunic with the inscription “second lieutenant” showing that not only the infamous Hungarian Guard wears uniforms in Hungary. Another member of the gang present at the trial wore a T-shirt with the implicit antisemitic inscriptionDo not tease us, fateless

This is a reference to Hungarian Nobel prize-winner Imre Kertesz ’s slim novel, “Fatelessness”, a book about the experiences of a fourteen year old boy, George Koves, in the infernos of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. By the way because of an Interview Kertész gave the Berlin daily „Die Welt” on November 7 rightwing media attacked him again.

It remains to be seen if the High court of Hungary will confirm this faulty judgment and thereby make it clear to the world that the country has a biased  system of justice. In that case the European court of Human Rights will have to deal with this case.