A surprising verdict: the Gypsies are the racists, not the members of the Hungarian Guard

Sajóbábony, a small town of 2,000 inhabitants 13 km from the city of Miskolc, has been in the news off and on since 2009, shortly after the random murders of Gypsies in several towns and villages. In the aftermath of these murders the Hungarian Roma population was not surprisingly jumpy and fearful. Intensifying their fear was the activity of Jobbik and the Hungarian Guard, its paramilitary unit. Guardists often appeared in towns with a large Roma population, almost as if they wanted to provoke some kind of conflict with the Gypsies.

In November 2009 the Hungarian Guard decided to move about 600 of their members to Sajóbábony, and Jobbik organized a political gathering in the town. The local Roma community felt threatened and unprotected by the police. Some of them decided to defend themselves, apparently armed with axes, swords, and canes. When they saw a dark car going through their neighborhood, at least nine people attacked it. The two people in the car, who were members of the Hungarian Guard, received minor injuries.

As a result of this incident the nine people involved in the incident were arrested. Last May the Miskolc court found them guilty. According to the prosecutors, in the course of attacking the car the Roma threatened to kill “the stinking Hungarians.” All of the accused denied the charges and claimed that they simply sent “the filthy guards back to where they came from.” Notwithstanding their protestations, all nine were found guilty of a hate crime directed against a distinct community, in this case against the Hungarians. Each received between two years and six months and four years in jail.

This was not the first time that a law designed to protect members of a minority against the aggression of the majority was invoked by Hungarian judges to rule in favor of the majority. There were two very similar cases to that of Sajóbábony, one in 2010 and another in 2011, in which the defendants were found guilty of committing a hate crime against the Hungarian community.

In the wake of the verdict TASZ (Társaság a Szabadságjogokért), the equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union, released a communiqué in which they stated that the verdict is based on entirely wrong premises. Serious legal mistakes were committed. Yes, the defendants should have been charged with disorderly conduct or breach of the peace, but they should not have been convicted of a crime motivated by racism. After all, they attacked the car because they thought that members of the Hungarian Guard were inside, whom they suspected of intending to harm them and their community. They didn’t attack them because they were Hungarians. TASZ actually accused the court of racism.

As soon as the verdict was handed down the nine Gypsies decided to appeal, right then and there. They made the wrong decision. The appellate court (ítélőtábla) in this particular district is in Debrecen. There, on September 30, the court decided that the lower court’s verdict was not harsh enough. What these nine people did was so heinous that longer sentences were warranted. Instead of sentences ranging from two years and six months to four years, their jail time was extended to between three years and six months and five years and four months.

Judge Lajos Balla of the Debrecen Appellate Court reads the verdict

Judge Lajos Balla of the Debrecen Appellate Court reads the verdict

TASZ released another communiqué in which they reiterated that the motivation was not anti-Hungarian prejudice but fear of an attack by the Hungarian Guard members. Moreover, the court did not consider the background leading up to the encounter. The judge neglected to give reasons for considering the attack on the two people in the car a hate crime directed against the Hungarians. Moreover, “the essence of violence against a given community is that the perpetrator is prejudiced toward a group which he considers to be inferior.” From the testimony of the accused it is clear that it was not “anti-Hungarian prejudice” that motivated them.

It often happens that racist attacks on Gypsies go unpunished while Gypsies are convicted on charges of racism. “All that makes it look as if in Hungary the Roma were responsible for racism and not that the Roma are the ones who are fearful because of their ethnic origin.” Clearly, the communiqué continued, the members of both the Miskolc district court and the Debrecen appellate court are racists themselves since they declared the Gypsies to be racists because they got embroiled with members of the racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, xenophobic, ultranationalist, irredentist Hungarian Guard. There is no appeal. The verdict is final.

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James Atkins
Guest

All the hatred there is in this country! You’d think the Catholic Church and its many followers would have plenty of good stuff to keep them busy, sowing peace and love and charity and hope, forgiving and teaching to forgive, showing compassion to the poor and deprived.

An
Guest

Sounds like this case (and the similar ones) should go to Strasbourg. I hope the attorneys of the defendants or TASZ will make the move. Outrageous.

tappanch
Guest

The staff were weeping in the schools of district 18. on payday yesterday. Their $400 a month salary has been slashed by 1/3, thanks to the chaos caused by the nationalization of the public schools.

http://index.hu/bloghu/lorincimagazin/2013/10/02/zokogtak_az_iskolakban

tappanch
Guest

About the outrageous injustice in Debrecen:

Nazi ideologists piggybacked onto politician mafiosi – this is how Orban’s system looks like.

dammmmmmage
Guest

I think there was a judge who disagreed.
The viktor avalanche is complete.
It has wiped out most decent citizens.
Only the orban loyalist were left standing.
This dictatorship will be a bitter chapter in the history.
And a longterm damage.
Long live the johnny boys and l. kovach gang.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Not surprising to anyone who knows these Gypsies.
(The Guard is also racist but that is another issue.)

Paul
Guest

These Gypsies?

So that makes all non-Gypsy Hungarians killers because the ‘men’ who firebombed and killed Gypsy families were ‘white’ Hungarians?

It makes all white, male, UK citizens guilty of financial fraud because the vast majority of such criminals in UK jails are white, male and UK citizens?

Idiot.

Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum)
Guest

Johnny Boy :
Not surprising to anyone who knows these Gypsies.
(The Guard is also racist but that is another issue.)

Johnny Boy is also a racist but that is another issue…

Mutt
Guest

@JB You cannot just hand down sentences based on “you know THESE Gypsies/Dentists/Etc”. The justice system is decimated in Hungary by THESE Fidesz monsters. This will lead to lynching and you will be part of it. It doesn’t matter if you acknowledge the Hungarian Guard’s racism. Don’t cheat yourself.

LwiiH
Guest

Johnny Boy :
Not surprising to anyone who knows these Gypsies.
(The Guard is also racist but that is another issue.)

Doesn’t the problem start with the police? They knew the guard were in town and they did nothing to assure the local population that they would be safe. “These Gypsies” had a perfect right, the responsibility to defend themselves in a system that won’t defend them. You don’t just accidentally wander into one of these neighbourhoods.

tappanch
Guest

1.
The government has spent more than 92.5% of the nationalized private retirement funds (MaNyuP) on current expenses in the last 2 1/6 years

http://akk.hu//kepek/upload/2013/NYRA_pf_honlapra_20130731.pdf

2.
Fideszniks want to sell the real estate of the Pető Institute on the cheap, that is why its budgetary support was slashed.

nol. hu/gazdasag/20131003-becslesek_also_hangon

marikaschmiedt
Guest

Reblogged this on ARTBRUT.

Fofe
Guest

LwiiH:

The average Hungarian policeman/woman is racist and is likely to be a Jobbik-fan. No surprise: we talk about lower middle/working class people (and of course the whole society is quite racist to begin with). I don’t think many even understand the meaning of being racist. In their world it is clear: the gipsies are criminals, like the sky is blue, who would question that?

Like in Greece, where Golden Dawn has deeply penetrated the police.

andy 'world ascance'
Guest
Issue definitely shows how skewed “justice” can be in this ‘great nation of ours’, (Hu). Reminds me of similar attitudes in much revered USA… of all places, where recently they let off scott-free a white-hispanic after murdering a black teenager in Florida who stood his ground while recently in the same State they locked away for 20 years a Black woman who was legitimately defending herself against an already convicted ex-husband hell-bent on annihilating her while she stood her ground, a legitimate notion and law in the State. Nevertheless the anti-Roma attitues in Hungary are extreme. Its really a big dilemma because the Roma attitudes and behavior are often contrary to the accepted norms of society. A minority of a suculture can seem, if it makes a lot of noise, seem like a majority within the subculture. And discrimination against a minority can really become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have had to stop arguing with my neighbors on the equal treatment of the Roma because it automatically leads to getting ostracised. There are so few others if any at all to stand up with you, you might as well call for the guillotine to come to the door! I know… Read more »
Lydia
Guest

I enjoy reading your blog but would really urge you to stop referring to Roma as “gypsies” in the future as it is considered a derogatory term. The case you are describing is insane at best.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

For those who read German: The Hungarian ambassador in Vienna is protesting against an art exhibition about Gypsies in Hungary.
http://pusztaranger.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/4131

derparia
Guest

Hat dies auf Der Paria rebloggt und kommentierte:
Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Jano
Guest

This is so Hungary. Yes, I perfectly understand why the Romas were terrified when the guardists arrived and it’s shameful that the police was nowhere. On the other hand just attacking a vehicle passing by with axes also can’t go unpunished, as it is also vigilantism. It’s just a matter of luck that only guardists were travelling in it.

Having said that, the sentences are ridiculously harsh. Of course, you could write another post on the ridiculous disproportionality of sentences in the Hungarian justice system.

tappanch
Guest

Franz Liszt: Des Bohémiens et de leur musique en Hongrie, 1859, Paris

Liszt Ferencz: A czigányokról és a czigány zenéről Magyarországon, 1861

claimed that the Hungarian peasant (folk) music is actually of Gypsy origin.

He uses the word czigány [since 1910 cigány] in a positive way.

In English, the word “Gypsy” might have become pejorative, in Hungarian, the word “cigány”
is all right.

————-
The word “Roma” came into use in the last 20 years, it is still technical.
Hungarian nationalists actually like the word “roma”, because it sounds almost like “román” [Romanian], so they can hate both people with one word.

——————-
Remark: the majority of the Gypsies do not know any of the original Gypsy dialects.

Majority (71%) knows only Hungarian, the “beás” (8%) speak Romanian, while 21% speak Gypsy.

http://www.nytud.hu/pp/heltai.html

Ivan
Guest

The idea that petty crime is entrenched in Roma culture (and even genetics) is widely believed in Hungary. But there is absolutely no evidence that the few wealthy Roma – musicians etc – do a spot of culturally-acceptable (and genetically-driven) petty theft during concert intervals (for example) … which WOULD be the case if there were ANY basis at all for such meaningless and nonsensical belief. Why is it so difficult to get across the notion that petty crime is driven by extreme poverty, being hated, and general hopelessness? There is little sense of common humanity in Hungary right now. And this verdict also seems to make official the notion that ‘Hungarian’ is now an exclusive white term that excludes peoples who have been here for centuries. Very 1920s.

(And yes, I have Roma neighbours. And yes, they are poor. And no, they haven’t pilfered my property – and even if they did, it would be a straightforward crime, not a cultural or racial expression).

Ron
Guest

Anybody has an idea what happened with the blog “The Contrarian Hungarian”. Almost a year ago was the last entry. I hope he/she/they start again.

Mutt
Guest

Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …

The rector of University Of Kaposvar introduced a new dress code for teachers and students. According to it, male students cannot wear shorts while in campus. They must wear dark socks on exams. Girls cannot wear short skirts, “excessive” makeup and cleavages that are too deep (!). Flip-flops on campus are also banned.

As the Hungarian tradition goes there is no word about who and how will judge these things also nothing about the punishment of girls with showing too much skin.

Expect the internet meme machine to spin up. Protests are planned. One of them is showing up in flip-flops and towels.

I wonder what’s next? I virginity test?

This is the guy:

comment image

Guest

Lydia :
I enjoy reading your blog but would really urge you to stop referring to Roma as “gypsies” in the future as it is considered a derogatory term. The case you are describing is insane at best.

Gypsy, Cigany, Zigeuner – have been used in different European countries for more than five hundred years to name a people that did not desire to integrate or was denied integration.

Recently some probably well meaning people got the idea that the century old names are the reason why these people have not long time ago melted into the larger society, and they proposed that Gypsies henceforth should be called Roma. The belief that renaming a problem can make it disappere is widesperead, and many people began to pick on anybody who said Gypsy instead of the newspeak word. The only thing which can be achieved by this is a cultural loss.

Tyrker
Guest

Lydia :
stop referring to Roma as “gypsies”.

Lydia – that’s like asking someone to stop referring to Magyars as Hungarians. Or Österreicher as Austrians etc. Roma is what they (actually, only some of them) call themselves but that does not mean the whole world has to call them that way.

Ivan
Guest

Lydia DOES have a point. This is a country where one can still buy “Nigger Kiss” cakes in most every bakery. The fact that it’s acceptable here doesn’t mean it’s acceptable (the word IS perjorative, in every Hungarian dictionary I have consulted).

Mutt
Guest

Néger in the Négercsók is the equivalent on negro and it was perfectly acceptable 30 or 40 years ago.

The Gypsy to Roma transition is like going from black to African American. We should not care. Whatever they prefer.

I wanted to call our dog Bozgor. The proposal failed on the kids who wanted an English sounding name. Like Moses (really).

Guest

Of course now in Germany the official word aka “Sprachregelung” is Sinti and Roma …

@Ivan, re “Negerkuss”:

There was a big uproar in my German home town (with a large university and a green mayor …) about this, so a lot of letters appeared in the local newspapers how this sweet should be called in a “politically correct” way. Even the word “schwarz” was deemed politically incorrect, so they settled on Schokokuss and then someone came up with the question:
What about a Schokokuss with white chocolate …

And now totally OT – one of my favourite jokes:

A Schwab boy asks his father: Papa, how far away is Africa ?

Answers the father:

Well I don’t really know, but it can’t be too far.
I have a black co-worker and he arrives every morning on his bicycle …

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