Hungary’s right-wing government, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has given out awards to controversial far-right journalists to mark the country’s national day on March 15.
Among the recipients is Ferenc Szanislo, a journalist at Echo TV, a media outlet close to Orban’s conservative Fidesz party; he has been awarded the prestigious Táncsics journalism award, named after 19th century Hungarian writer, educator and journalist Mihály Táncsics.
Szanislo has been criticised for writing supposedly anti-Semitic and anti-Roma publications. In 2011, he was punished by Hungary’s official media watchdog for having compared the Roma community to “human monkeys.”
Zoltan Balog, the Hungarian minister of Human Resources, called the decision “regrettable” and claimed not to be aware of Szaniszlo’s anti-Semitic declarations. He pointed out that there was no legal recourse to strip Szaniszlo of his award.
In protest, a dozen journalists, all former Tancsics award winners, have given their prize back to the authorities.