Hungary Jewish body 'shocked' by anti-Semitic street naming

Hungary's top Jewish organisation urged the mayor of Budapest Thursday to revoke a "shocking" recent decision to name a street after an "openly anti-Semitic" author.

"We ask Mayor Istvan Tarlos to withdraw the decision by the city hall Wednesday to name a street after Cecile Tormay," the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) said in a statement to newswire MTI.

Tormay, who died in 1937 at the age of 75, was a popular novelist and short-story writer between the two world wars, who once boasted of having been a fascist before Mussolini.

"She was open about her anti-Semitic views, while her ideas and thoughts were taken as guidelines by leading anti-Semitic figures in Hungarian politics," Mazsihisz said.

"She was (Hungary's wartime leader and Hitler ally) Miklos Horthy's favourite author," it added.

Mazsihisz said it was "shocking" that the decision to name the street - formerly an unnamed street section in the city's 2nd district -- was made on the 75th anniversary of the day the first of several anti-Jewish laws came into force in Hungary.

In 1938, Horthy passed a series of laws restricting the numbers of Jews companies and institutions could employ.

Around 600,000 Hungarian Jews later perished during the Holocaust.

Mazsihisz called on Mayor Tarlos, an independent politician with close ties to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing Fidesz party, "not to name public areas in the city after personalities whose life and works raise doubts about the government's commitment to fight anti-Semitism".

At the World Jewish Congress held in Budapest earlier this month, Orban said his government is doing everything to defend Hungary's 100,000-strong Jewish community from anti-Semitism.