Budapest, July 4: the most surrealistic nationalist demonstration
On July 3rd the Supreme Court of Hungary the Court of Appeal ruled that the neo-nationalist para-military organisation "Magyar Garda" (Hungarian guard) must be dissolved, as the activities of the organisation violate the constitution of Hungary. Magyar Garda (further MG) applied to make a demonstration against the ruling, but the permission was not given.
Therefore yesterday they assembled for an illegal demonstration. I went to have a drink with a friend, and we found ourselves right in the middle of it.The demonstration was supposed to take place at Kossuth square, so the metro stop Kossuth ter was closed. Yet for some reason it happened at .
For example, the second photo shows two kids wearing T-shirts with the map of "Greater Hungary". These were the borders of Hungary before the treaty of Trianon (end of WW1) chopped off 2/3 of the country's territory. Many right-wing Hungarians still feel it was unfair, as many ethnic Hungarians live in these territories in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. Hungary also lost its only access to sea (the territory is now Croatia). I was amazed how omnipresent this map is. Some people wear it on their clothes or have it as a sticker on their cars, it's also possible to buy it carved in wood, embroidered, etc.The police has to give three warnings before it starts to do something. As it's a very touristic place, and the Hungarian police has learned its lessons since 2006, they are well prepared to do everything to avoid resorting to violence. The warnings were, predictably, met with whistling and booing, someone shouted that the police represents crime, and not the law. Me and my friend stayed there till some demonstrators started throwing bottles down to the club, the police used some small teargas sprayers and their shields to slowly disperse and push the crowd out of the Deak square. Basically that was the story. But to organise my thoughts better I will add more details in the following chapters.
GenderIt was pro
bably the first time for me to see neo-nazi girls. Where I come from, girls can only be "incomplete" skinheads and are most likely to become good-looking attributes to their skinhead boyfriends. Here they seemed to have a rather active role.There were two parts of the crowd, standing on different sides of the Godor club. One was facing the police; there were many people with their faces covered, and they looked more aggressive (3rd photo). They were the ones provoking the police and expecting its response. They were whistling, booing, and shouting more aggressive slogans than the others. They extensively took photos and filmed what the police was doing, and filmed us as well. Don't be surprised if you see me on a Hungarian far-right website with a glass of lemonade. Some of them threw a couple of bottles at us sitting down there outside near the club. This encouraged the employees of the club to quickly pack all the chairs and move people to safer locations.
On the other wall of the club, there were many ladies and elderly people. They were standing in a safe distance from the police and looked less aggressive, but shouted louder. They were also giving "advice" to those on the other side, encouraging them not to be violent. At the same time, they were shouting at the police: "Aren't you ashamed to harass Hungarians?" Most of the slogans, such as "Long live Magyar Garda", came from this side. At some point two people started arguing over one of them supposedly mishandling the flag. Many people on this side wore Greater Hungary maps on their T-shirts. One lady had a "Jobbik" (the far-right Hungarian political party which has just got into the European Parliament) T-shirt on. Those who wanted could have easily come downstairs to the club or thrown something at us, but they didn't.
Anti-semitismI know that the Hungarian far-right is very anti-Roma, but, surprisingly enough, I heard no anti-Roma slogans. The slogans were against the police, against the government, or... against Jews. For those who don't know the situation in Hungary, the country has the biggest Jewish community in this part of Europe, and it's very assimilated. You can see some Orthodox in the city, but most of them are either from abroad or recent "converts". The looks of Magyar Hungarians and Jewish Hungarians are about the same and very diverse, so there are no identifiable physical features to separate these communities. Most Jewish Hungarians have Hungarian names. Nonetheless, for the far-right they are always a convenient scapegoat.Some of the anti-semitic slogans were very general, such as "dirty Jews", "Jews go away from Hungary". Someone on the more aggressive side pointed his middle finger at the police and shouted: "suck this, Jewish bastards" or something like that. He looked drunk. Reports show that some people in the Hungarian police are rather anti-semitic themselves, but of course that would never show as they are on duty.What struck me in this situation was one slogan, a part of which was repeated by several people. So, on the louder side, some people were shouting "Jews go home to Israel!", but one female voice also added "and climb your trees there". This is very surprising for me as a more or less anthropologist, if we put aside all emotional and ethical aspects of it. Apparently, some of these demonstrators totally don't connect to the authentic anti-semitism in the region. There was nothing about banks (Hungary is very crisis-struck), US influence, economic conspiracies, communism and all that jazz in relation to their anti-semitism. They actually adopted the racist vocabulary which is used to humiliate black people: "go home to your jungle" sort of thing. I asked my friend why are they using this. "Because they think that Jews are monkeys, not people," my friend tried to explain. "But Israel and jungle?.. What?!" I couldn't get the logic. "You're over-educated," my friend smiled. It seems to me that these people were not instructed by their leaders as to why Jews are their "enemies". They don't have a coherent conspiracy theory. They just overheard some things and "recycled" them, it seems.
EntertainmentThe most surrealistic thing about the event was that the club was right in the middle, or, literally, under it. So some demonstrators would cross the space once in a while and, before the bar closed fearing violence, some of them would come down to get a beer. Some policemen would go to the bathroom. Before it get more intense, tourists would come in and out. A couple was dancing to the music played on louspeakers (I have great videos, but I should edit them and maybe finally create a youtube account).
My friend pointed out that the number of bartenders was higher than usual - the club could have been expecting to profit from the demonstration.As we were told by the club's guards to go inside (a light smell of teargas was lingering in the air already), we saw that there were actually playing it the club. Wow! It felt like "Titanic"!