Stefan J. Bos, Bos News Life, October 5, 2014
Hungarian police raided a gathering in Budapest of an extremist U.S.-based group, detaining its leader and interrogating other participants, BosNewsLife learned.
The overnight raid in a pub near Budapest’s Southern railway station came after the government banned a congress of the National Policy Institute (NPI), which promotes white race supremacy and has called for immigrants to return home.
NPI leader Richard Spencer had earlier warned in a video message that the gathering “on the future of Europe” would be a “private event” as the official venue cancelled its contract following the ban.
Pictures seen by BosNewsLife and posted on the YouTube website show about two dozen policemen standing outside the pub, while other police apparently question participants inside the building.
Police said the participants, including Spencer, were held because they did not had proper identification documents, but delegates claimed they were not informed about these requirements.
The overnight raid came after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ordered his interior minister to ban the gathering and not allow participants into the country, in a decision supported by the leftist opposition and Jewish representatives.
However the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) questioned the decision. “While we totally disagree with the NPI ideas, we do not support a ban,” said Szabolcs Hegyi, who supervises the group’s Right and Freedom of Conscience Program. “We do believe in freedom of expression and there is no evidence that they are violent,” he told BosNewsLife.
Yet his group participated in a demonstration against the NPI meeting. Late Friday, October 3, some 150 people gathered in front of a controversial monument remembering the Nazi Germany’s occupation of Hungary to express concern about the “racist” and “white supremacist” congress.
The Montana-based NPI has denied wrongdoing. “The “conservative” Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, declared that he will use “all legal means at his disposal” to ban our conference,” complained Spencer in a recent video message. “I guess we should be happy that illegal means are off the table. It’s important to remember that neither Orbán nor anyone else has accused us of actually breaking any laws, because we haven’t.”
Ironically, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest seemed to agree. “As much as we deplore the views of any group that promotes this type of racism or ethnic discord, under U.S. law their right to express their views would be protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Charge d’Affaires André Goodfriend in an interview.
However, “We’re glad to see that the government of Hungary shares our concerns that messages that a group like this promotes are abhorrent,” he stressed. “We’re pleased to see that the government of Hungary is speaking out to reaffirm that it does not support those who promote racial or ethnic intolerance.”
[Editor’s Note: In July, the US Embassy in Budapest released a statement expressing support for a gay pride festival. It said, in part:
On the occasion of the 19th Budapest Pride Festival, we convey our support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Hungary and their right to express themselves peacefully and lawfully.
Respect for human rights–including justice, equality, non-discrimination, freedom of expression as well as the non-interference in the practice of these rights–and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built. Indeed, international human rights law is grounded on the premise that all individuals are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We welcome the Hungarian government’s commitment to supporting these rights and their support in June 2011 of the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
We look forward to the Pride celebrations, to the respect for them which the Hungarian people will show and to the determination of the Hungarian authorities not to allow those of extreme views to disrupt what should and will be joyful occasions.]