The Second Little Pinprick

Érpatak Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz stomps on a modified Israeli flag.

Érpatak Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz stomps on a modified Israeli flag.

On August 2, 2014, de facto Jobbik (de jure independent) Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz of Érpatak (eastern Hungary, population 1,700) hanged current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres of Israel in effigy from gallows erected in front of the village council building. Mayor Orosz conducted the mock executions after ceremonially trampling on an Israeli flag bearing a Masonic Square and Compass in place of the Star of David to protest the “continual holocaust taking place in Palestine,” specifically the hundreds of Palestinians killed during Israel’s military operations in Gaza (video of event in Hungarian). 

Orosz, who became the mayor of  Érpatak in 2010, has become well-known in Hungary for appearing at public events in various types of Hungarian historical costume and for his so-called “Érpatak Model” of maintaining order in the village, which essentially consists of imposing coercive measures on its Gypsy inhabitants in order to compel them to do public work and respect the law (source in Hungarian).

Orosz is also a known for his close connection to radical-nationalist organizations such as the New Hungarian Guard, the Outlaw Army (Betyársereg) and the 64 Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom) as well as various neo-Nazi Hungarist groups (source in Hungarian). 

Mayor Orosz watches as the executioner kicks the stool from underneath the effigy of Shimon Peres.

Mayor Orosz watches as the executioner kicks the stool from underneath the effigy of Shimon Peres.

During one of his annual public commemorations of the attempt of German and Hungarian military forces to break out of the Soviet siege of Budapest in February 1945, Orosz referred to Second World War fascist Arrow Cross head of state and government Ferenc Szálasi as Hungary’s “martyred national leader” (source in Hungarian). 

Orosz has also launched an increasing number of high-profile attacks on liberals and manifestations of liberalism in Hungary, most recently making the 200-kilometer trip to Budapest earlier in the summer to heckle participants in the city’s annual gay parade (source in Hungarian).

On June 18, 2014, the Nyíregyháza Court of Justice ruled that Orosz had committed an illegal act of political discrimination when he ordered police to remove a local member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union from his 2013 commemoration of the 1945 German-Hungarian attempt to escape the Soviet siege of Budapest (source in Hungarian).

The hanging in effigy of Israel’s head of government and former head of state that Orosz organized on August 2 may entail further legal proceedings against him: on August 5, Hungary’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced that at the request of the Israeli embassy in Budapest it had initiated an investigation of the mayor of Érpatak on suspicion of incitement (source in Hungarian).   

Sign on the gallows used to hang the effigy of Shimon Peres.

Sign on gallows used to hang the effigy of Shimon Peres.

And, for the first time, the Orbán administration condemned Orosz’s antics: on August 4, Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Tibor Navracsics issued a statement in which he declared that “Arbitrary and symbolic administration of justice toward the leaders of other states is incompatible with European norms and rule of law. The mayor is exploiting the innocent victims of the Gaza war as a pretext for disseminating his malicious propaganda (source in Hungarian). 

Perhaps the Orbán government will soon decide that it really wants to inhibit the spread of racist radical nationalism in the economically disadvantaged regions of rural eastern and southern Hungary after either ignoring or tacitly encouraging this phenomenon during the 2010–2014 parliamentary cycle. However, Mihály Zoltán Orosz’s ardently anti-liberal, anti-Semitic, anti-West and anti-democratic policies and activities as mayor of Érpatak, the victory of 64 Counties Youth Movement leader László Toroczkai in by-elections for mayor in the village of Ásotthalom in December 2013 (see The First Little Pinprick) and the significant degree of support for the New Hungarian Guard (see Uniform Disorder) and Jobbik (see Crunching the Election Numbers) in these parts of the country suggest that it may be too late.  

Postscript: a reporter from the opposition weekly Magyar Narancs talked to the man who played the role of executioner in the mock hanging: he reported that Mayor Orosz had enlisted him to do this job as part of his village “social work” duties and that “It doesn’t matter to me who’s shooting who and who they are hanging” (source in Hungarian). 

Pinpricks

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