NGOs Call for Advertising Boycott over Anti-Roma Statements in Hungarian Media

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. 

The letter was sent to the following companies: 
CIB Bank (Intensa SanPaolo)
Erste Bank Hungary
FedEx
GDF Suez 
IKEA Hungary
Magyar Posta (Hungarian Post)
T-Com (Magyar Telekom Nyrt.)
MÁV Co. (Hungarian Railway)
National Development Agency (Nemzeti Fejlesztési Ügynökség (NFÜ))
OTP Bank 
Procter & Gamble Hungary
Questor Group
Sodexo Hungary Ltd.
Szerencsejáték Zrt.
Vodafone Hungary 
The following NGOs signed the letter:
Amnesty International Hungary
Golden Lily Foundation
Autonómia Foundation
Budapesti Szociális Forrásközpont
Starlight (Csillagfény) Foundation
Chance for Children Foundation
Eötvös Károly Policy Institute
European Roma Rights Centre
Gyerekesély Közhasznú Egyesület (GYERE)
Háttér Support Society for LGBT People in Hungary
Krétakör Foundation
Labrisz Lesbian Association
Hungarian Helsinki Committee
Hungarian LMBT Alliance (seven member organisation)
Hungarian Women’s Lobby
Hungarian Anti Poverty Network
Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities
Nógrád Megyei Cigány Kisebbségi Képviselők és Szószólók Szövetsége
Partners Hungary Foundation
Polgár Foundation
Romaversitas Foundation
Szegényeket Támogató Alap (SZETA) Egri Alapítványa
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Terne Cserehájá Egyesület
Méltóságot Mindenkinek Mozgalom (coMMMunity)

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