An MEP of the far-right party Jobbik defended himself this week after being “outed” as having Jewish ancestry. Csanád Szegedi gave an interview to the Jobbik newspaper Barikád in which the 29-year-old nationalist denied there was any tension between him and Jobbik leader Gábor Vona. He stressed his Hungarian folk credentials and said he was still adjusting to what he claims is the “news” that his maternal grandmother was Jewish and survived deportation to Auschwitz in 1944.
Shocked and mocked
“A hundred years ago there were a million Jews living in Hungary, who considered themselves Hungarian, and one cannot say that there was a problem with all of them,” Szegedi told the newspaper, apparently without irony. “I’m not saying I wasn’t shocked by this new information, and it will probably take some time for me to come to terms with these events.”
Cyberspace was, unsurprisingly, awash with mockery of Szegedi, whose party is known for its anti-semitic rhetoric. “If my grandmother was named Magdolna Klein and I knew she had been transported to Auschwitz, I might just have suspected the possibility of my having Jewish roots,” one commentator wrote on the right-wing blog mandiner.hu.
Vona said in a Wednesday television interview that he still had confidence in Szegedi, who had just been elected as branch leader of the Jobbik stronghold of Borsod County.
Szegedi landed his job in Brussels in 2009 after a surprisingly strong showing by Jobbik in the EU elections. He became notorious for wearing the uniform of the outlawed paramilitary Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard) in the European Parliament (pictured above). His stated ambition is to see Hungary regain territory lost after the First World War, and he once called for the setting up of interment camps to isolate Roma families.