Hungary mayor orders review of 'anti-Semitic' street name

The mayor of Budapest ordered a review Thursday of a city hall decision to name a street after an author called "openly anti-Semitic" by Hungary's top Jewish organisation.

Budapest City Hall voted Wednesday to name a street in the city after Cecile Tormay, a Hungarian novelist and short-story writer in the early 20th century known for her hatred of Jews.

In a statement to newswire MTI Thursday the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) urged Mayor Istvan Tarlos to revoke the decision.

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

Tarlos told MTI later Thursday he had ordered a review and new debate on the case and had asked the Hungarian Academy of Science for their official stance on Tormay.

Tormay, who died in 1937 at the age of 75, was a popular novelist and short-story writer in Hungary between the two world wars.

She blamed Jews for the dismemberment of Hungary following the post-World War I Trianon peace treaty in 1920, and once boasted of having been a fascist before Mussolini.

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

Mazsihisz said it was "shocking" that the decision to dub the formerly unnamed street 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 died during the Holocaust.

Mazsihisz called on 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 was doing everything to defend Hungary's 100,000-strong Jewish community from "unacceptable and intolerable" anti-Semitism.

In a press release, WJC president Ronald Lauder expressed his consternation at the decision which "puts the Hungarian government's pledge to act against anti-Semitism into doubt".