Sign War I

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE AWAY THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS!

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS!

In June 2015, the Orbán government launched a 381-million-forint (1.2-million-euro) “informational campaign” connected to its National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism (source in Hungarian). This campaign consists primarily of billboard signs displaying the following three messages, in Hungarian, to migrants who arrive to Hungary (source in Hungarian showing design of all three signs):  

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS! 

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU MUST RESPECT OUR CULTURE! 

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU MUST RESPECT OUR LAWS! 

People started to deface these signs immediately after their appearance on billboards in Budapest on June 5. Vice-President Péter Juhász of the opposition liberal party Együtt (Together) announced days before the signs appeared that “if they put them up, we will tear them down” (source in Hungarian). In the early morning of June 7, the Budapest Police arrested six activists from the party’s youth organization after seeing them obliterate the lettering on some of the signs with spray paint (source in Hungarian). Later on June 7, two people, one of them an employee of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), turned themselves in to police after defacing one of the signs in a conscious act of civil disobedience against what TASZ referred to as the “government’s hate campaign” (source in Hungarian). Already on June 6, an interactive map of Hungary allowing users to identify the site of the government signs under the flag markers “untouched,” “modified” and “erased” appeared on the Internet (see map). In addition to the large number of signs that have been defaced and torn down, many have been creatively modified to deliver alternate messages (source in Hungarian, including gallery).

Below are Orange Files photographs of six signs in central Budapest, five of which have been defaced (click on any photo to see in gallery view):

 

On June 8, the farcical Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt) and the pro-democracy Vastagbőr (Thick Skin) blog launched a campaign seeking three million forints in donations to pay for 50 billboard signs to counter those of the government (source in Hungarian). As of June 10, the campaign had already collected 18 million forints in donations (source in Hungarian).

Illustration from Vastagbőr blog.

Illustration from Vastagbőr blog article on collection of donations for counter signs.

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