The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is joining with a coalition of Hungarian NGOs are calling on domestic companies and Hungarian divisions of multinationals to take a stand against hate speech in Hungary. The NGOS are asking, among others, Vodafone and T-Com, FEDEX, IKEA and Procter and Gamble to reconsider advertising in a Hungarian newspaper which published an article talking about Romani people in unacceptably racist and prejudiced language.
On 5 January 2013, Hungarian daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap published an op-ed by Zsolt Bayer, a journalist and co-founder of the ruling Fidesz party. The article contained the following passage on Roma:
"A significant portion of the Gypsies are unfit for coexistence. Not fit to live among human beings. These people are animals and behave like animals. ... If he finds resistance, he kills... He wants what he sees. If he doesn't get it, he takes it and he kills.... From his animal skull only inarticulate sounds come out and the only thing he understands is brute force... These animals should not exist. No way. This must be solved, immediately and in any way possible."
This kind of inflammatory language is especially dangerous in Hungary. Six Romani people were murdered in a series of racially-motivated violent attacks just a few years ago; far-right groups regularly organise racist marches designed to intimidate and harass Romani people; there is a widespread climate of prejudice and hate against Roma people, and discriminatory speech has become accepted in the public discourse.
The NGOs are asking the companies to review their advertising policies and to consider withdrawing all advertising from Magyar Hírlap until its editors explicitly condemn the op-ed, and the newspaper decides to cease publishing racist, anti-semitic or homophobic articles. In addition, the civil organisations are asking them to explicitly inform the management of Magyar Hírlap that their decision to withdraw advertising is linked to its policy on publishing articles containing racist, antisemitic and discriminatory speech.