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Five international firms have pulled their advertising from a Hungarian newspaper after it published anti-Roma remarks, a Roma rights centre said Wednesday.
According to the European Roma Rights Centre, Erste Bank (Austria), CIB Bank (Italy, Intesa Sanpaolo), Ikea (Sweden), Fedex (USA) and GDF-Suez (France) have all withdrawn their advertisements from the right-wing daily newspaper Magyar Hirlap.
This was to protest at remarks in January by its columnist Zsolt Bayer, a publicist close to conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said Roma behaved like animals.
Following a violent crime incident involving suspected Roma assailants, Bayer wrote: "Most Gypsies are not suitable for cohabitation. They are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals, and behave like animals."
The Budapest-based Centre said the firms acted in response to a letter campaign begun in February by 24 non-governmental organisations - including itself - asking advertisers in Magyar Hirlap to pull their ads in protest at Bayer's comments.
The campaign sends a clear signal that racist anti-Roma statements will not be tolerated, the Centre's executive director Dezideriu Gergely told AFP.
"Businesses risk alienating their customers by continuing to support media outlets that publish provocative and offensive material," he said.