The far-right Hungarian political party, Jobbik, known for their anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and homophobic rhetoric inducted the first members of its paramilitary wing outside the country’s Presidential palace in Budapest yesterday.
The founding members of Magyar Garda, or the Hungarian Guard, took oaths of allegance in front of over a thousand supporters of the Jobbik party waving red and white striped Arpad flags, similar to those used by the country’s pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime during the Second World War.
“The Hungarian Guard has been set up in order to carry out the real change of regime and to rescue Hungarians”, Jobbik president and Magyar Garda founder Gabor Vona told the crowd.
The paramilitary group says it will “defend Hungary physically, morally and spiritually.” Members will be trained how to use weapons.
Jobbik supporters protested at Budapest’s gay pride march in July, throwing eggs and bottles at marchers.
“If the Magyar Guard manages to legitimise itself over the longer term… more such groups will be formed and it will cause a strong fear in the public in a young democracy which still needs to be developed rather than challenged,” Zoltan Fleck, professor of the sociology of law at Budapest’s ELTE university, told Reuters.
At a counter-demonstration, black and white photographs of Jews wearing a yellow star and being herded into trains to death camps were displayed.
Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany condemned the creation of the paramilitary group saying it is “the disgrace of Hungary and Hungarian democracy”. He has written to the country’s chief prosecutor calling for special attention to be paid to the group and for immediate steps to be taken if they engage in any illegal activities.
The Jobbik party has allegiances with most of the country’s mainstream right of centre parties in municipal and local government.