Budapest court chides police for banning Holocaust mockery

(JTA) — A Hungarian court chided police for preventing rightist extremists from staging a rally that included banners that appeared to mock the Holocaust.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Wednesday’s ruling by the Budapest Municipal Court of Labor and Administration ruled as “illegitimate” the police’s decision to prevent a biker rally featuring the slogan “give gas” from taking place last week, the Hungarian news agency Magyar Tavirati Iroda reported.

The bikers may re-apply for a permit to rally.

The rally was organized by rightwing radicals to coincide with the April 21 March of the Living to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. 

Police understood the banners to be a provocation related to gas chambers where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. 

Prime Minister Viktor Orban had ordered his Interior Minister to keep from taking place “events of a political nature that may violate the marchers’ human dignity.”

On April 8, the day police rejected the permit, Orban told opposition lawmakers in parliament that he “categorically rejected” the bikers’ behavior. “The time and route of the event as well as its provocative slogan offend every good-minded person,” his office said in a statement that day.

The court said that police made “unjustified presumptions” in banning the gathering. Police also missed the deadline, two days after the request was made, for imposing a ban, the court said.

If the police had suspected the event was meant to “cynically mock the memory of Holocaust victims,” they should have made that clear upon receiving the bikers’ notice, the court said.

The police ban prevented people who wished to attend the far-right demonstration from exercising their right of assembly and expression, it said. 

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