Budapest to review naming of street after anti-Semite

(JTA) — The mayor of Budapest ordered a re-examination of a controversial decision to name a street after an anti-Semitic author.

Maria Szucs Ciuc, a spokeswoman for Mayor Istvan Tarlos, told the news site FN24.hu on Thursday that Tarlos had ordered the re-examination of the city council’s decision to name a street after Cecile Tormay (1876-1937). Under the Local Government Act, the mayor may reverse decisions deemed “offensive”.

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The town council’s Wednesday vote provoked angry reactions from the World Jewish Congress. Ronald Lauder, the WJC president, said in a statement that it “puts into question the pledge given to the Jewish community that anti-Semitism will be fought vigorously by the Hungarian authorities.”

In a separate statement, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said Tormay had “inspired” many anti-Semitic thinkers and leaders in Hungary, including Miklos Horthy, the country’s pro-Nazi ruler during World War II, when 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered.

The decision to name the street after Tormay came days after reports of three anti-Semitic incidents directed at Mazsihisz and one of its communities.

On Monday, police removed a package containing white powder from the Mazsihisz main office.

And on Sunday, worshippers discovered anti-Semitic slogans spray-painted on the facade of a synagogue in Vac, a city 20 miles north of Budapest. A nearby Jewish cemetery was desecrated and at least two of its headstones were smashed. Police were investigating all three incidents but the identity of the perpetrators is as of yet unknown, the MTI news agency reported.

Earlier this month, Mazsihisz hosted the World Jewish Congress General Assembly amid protests by hundreds of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists. Many of the protesters were affiliated with the Jobbik party, Hungary’s third largest. Hungary’s Jewish watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Action and Protection Foundation, or TEV, has termed Jobbik “a neo-Nazi” party.