Critics say not even the mainstream ruling party in Hungary dares reject racism and homophobia for fear of alienating a crucial voting bloc -- the far right.
While Europe's economic woes have lately dominated headlines, the lights on Rome's fabled Colosseum went dark Sunday to highlight an overlooked consequence of that crisis: rising xenophobia across Europe. In a statement last week, Rome's mayor described the symbolic act, planned to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as motivated, in particular, by "acts of anti-Semitism that are spreading in a disturbing manner in Hungary, prompted by the extreme right-wing Jobbik Party."
One of a number of far-right parties that have won greater representation in European parliaments in recent years while scapegoating minority groups, Jobbik is a self-described "radically patriotic Christian party"-- others describe it as "fascist," "Neo-Nazi," "racist," and "homophobic"-- which often makes headlines for anti-Semitic and anti-Roma outbursts.
The most surprising came in late November, when Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi stunned observers by calling for the creation of a list of Hungary's Jews, especially those in government, "who represent a certain national security risk." While this wasn't the first time that Jobbik has been accused of playing to anti-Semitic sentiments, this latest episode apparently went a step too far in a country where more than half a million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, often with the help of community lists used to round them up for deportation to Auschwitz. In a rare display of civic solidarity last month, a crowd of thousands gathered outside parliament for a demonstration against Gyongyosi's comments and a rising tide of hatred and extremism.