The posters showed the two journalists, Gábor Miklósi and Andras Dezso, in front of the Israeli flag and beneath them the words: “We, too, came from the other side of the border.” The appearance of the posters was preceded by a week of smears and attacks targeting Miklósiv and Dezso in pro-government and far-right media.
While covering the inauguration of FC DAC’s new football stadium in Budapest on 15 November, Miklósiv did not stand when fans stood to sing FC DAC’s unofficial anthem, a Hungarian version of “Without You.” Unaware that that this song is very popular in right-wing and far-right circles in Hungary, he simply explained during his report that he only stood for the Hungarian national anthem.
His interpretation was not shared by the pro-government and far-right media, which have been attacking him as a “monster” and “alien” ever since. László Toroczkai, the president of the far-right movement “Our Country,” went so far as to stage a press conference outside Index’s headquarters on 20 November in order to accuse Miklósi of “anti-Hungarian” behaviour.
Dezso has been the target of similar attacks (and was included in the poster alongside Miklósi) as a result of doing a coub on asylum seekers in which he incorporated video footage of a line from the same song being sung at a concert: “Is there someone from the other side of the border? Raise your hand!”
“The government must take a clear position on these incidents, coming just months after a campaign for the European elections that raised the spectre of a nationalistic and populist upsurge and fuelled concern within Hungary’s Jewish community, the target of anti-Semitic language and violence,” said Pauline Adès-Mevel, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “These deeply offensive anti-Semitic posters are unacceptable and must be condemned loudly and clearly by the government.”
RSF points out that any form of stigmatization, intimidation or defamation of journalists is unacceptable and must be immediately denounced by the Hungarian government.
These attacks have been condemned by the National Association of Hungarian Journalists and by the US and Israeli embassies in Budapest, while the newly-elected mayor of the capital undertook to have the posters removed at once. These events come against a backdrop of constant harassment of independent media ever since Viktor Orbán was returned to the position of prime minister in 2010.
It is essential that media independence and the protection of journalists should be guaranteed in Hungary, which is ranked 87th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, 14 places lower than in 2019. RSF and other international press freedom organizations conducted a three-day joint visit to Hungary this week.