A member of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s inner circle resigned after the prime minister publicly spoke out against Europe becoming a “mixed race” people.
Zsuzsa Hegedus, who has known the nationalist Orbán for 20 years, described his speech as a “purely Nazi text”, according to local media reports.
The International Auschwitz Committee, made up of Holocaust survivors, called the speech “stupid and dangerous”.
- SANDRA COHEN: Viktor Orbán propagates apocalyptic rhetoric against racial mixing
The Holocaust was the mass murder of millions of Jews, as well as homosexuals, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minorities, during World War II, from a systematic extermination program sponsored by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
And Orbán’s spokesman said, in turn, that the press misrepresented the comments.
The speech took place on Saturday (23) in a region of Romania that has a large Hungarian community. In his speech, Orbán said that European peoples should be free to mix with one another, but that mixing with non-Europeans created a “mixed-race world”.
“We’re willing to mix with each other, but we don’t want to become mixed-race,” he declared.
Orbán’s anti-immigration views are well known, but for Hegedus, Saturday’s speech went too far.
“I don’t know how you (Orbán) didn’t realize that the speech you made is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels,” she wrote in her resignation letter, according to Hungarian news website hvg.hu.
Goebbels was Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister in Nazi Germany. He was known for his gift of oratory and profound anti-Semitism.
Hungary’s largest Jewish group also condemned the speech and called a meeting with Orbán.
Analysis by Nick Thorpe, BBC correspondent in Budapest
Orbán’s comments on race were heavily criticized by some people in Hungary, and equally strongly defended by others.
“Only one race inhabits this land, Homo Sapiens. And it is unique and indivisible,” commented Chief Rabbi Robert Fröhlich.
Opposition politicians, decisively defeated by Orbán’s Fidesz party in April’s elections, said their comments were “unacceptable… unworthy of a European statesman”.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs tried to drown out the growing chorus of disapproval, arguing that the prime minister had been outspoken on immigration and assimilation issues for years.
In the government-aligned Magyar Nemzet, an article praised Orbán for defending the idea of nationality against an attempt to blend all nations “into a gray and indistinguishable mass”.
At best, Orbán seems confused, at times speaking of Hungarians as “the most mixed society”, at other times seeming to suggest he believes in ethnic purity.
Zsuzsa Hegedus’ resignation will likely have no further repercussions in Hungary. Party discipline is rigid, and layoffs are almost unheard of.
In a letter response to his longtime adviser, Orbán defended his words.
“You know better than anyone that in Hungary my government follows a zero-tolerance policy towards both anti-Semitism and racism,” he wrote.
His spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, said the mainstream media was “hyperventilating about some harsh sentences about immigration and assimilation”, but remained silent on the main points of the speech.
Orbán also spoke about the war in Ukraine, arguing that Western support for the country had failed, that sanctions against Russia were not working and that negotiating a peace deal should be a priority.
Despite receiving large amounts of funds from the European Union, the Hungarian government led by Orbán frequently clashes with the bloc over rule of law issues such as freedom of the press and migration.
The Hungarian prime minister has in the past had a good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is the only European Union leader to openly criticize Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In February of this year, President Jair Bolsonaro met with Órban in Budapest. At the time, he called the Hungarian prime minister his brother and said there were political and ideological affinities between Brazil and Hungary. According to him, the two countries would represent values such as God, homeland, family and freedom.