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Hungary rights campaigner victim of 'anti-Semitic assault'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The head of a Hungarian minority rights group named after a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in World War II said Monday that he was assaulted by anti-Semitic football fans.

Ferenc Orosz, chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Association, told MTI news agency that while attending a match in Budapest on Sunday he had asked fans to refrain from chants such as "Sieg Heil".

He was physically threatened, called a "Jewish communist" and on leaving the stadium his exit was blocked by two assailants. One said "Sieg Heil" while the other broke his nose, Orosz said.

The incident comes ahead of a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest from Sunday that organisers say is aimed at showing solidarity with Hungary's Jews amid a rise in anti-Semitism in the EU member state.

Peter Feldmajer, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Hungary (MAZSIHISZ), said that the assault on Orosz was "a manifestation of intolerance in society".

Anti-Semitic chants at a friendly with Israel last year prompted governing body FIFA to make Hungary to play a World Cup qualifier in an empty stadium in March, the first ever punishment issued by FIFA on grounds of anti-Semitism.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban will use a keynote speech at the WJC conference to "decisively answer that part of the world which accuses all Hungarians and the (Hungarian) government of anti-Semitism," his chief of staff said Monday.

Janos Lazar also said there would be a ban on any demonstrations at the time of the conference which might "offend the human dignity of participants".

Orban has had to answer criticism that it is not doing enough to counter anti-Semitism and the rise of far-right extremism.

In March, a state honours list for cultural personalities included a prominent TV presenter and a musician both known for anti-Semitic and racist views.

In November, a deputy of the far-right Jobbik party also caused uproar by proposing in parliament drawing up a list of people "of Jewish origin (who) present a national security risk to Hungary."

And in June, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel returned Hungary's highest state honour because of what he called a "whitewashing" of history in Hungary.

Last May pig's feet were placed on a statue of Wallenberg, who as a diplomat based in Budapest during the Nazi era managed to save thousands of Jews from the gas chambers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130429/hungary-rights-campaigner-victim-anti-semitic-assault