Israel asks Hungary to withdraw journalism award

Israeli ambassador asks Hungary to withdraw award from journalist fined for his comments

Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Hungary should withdraw a state journalism award given to a TV presenter whose station was fined in 2011 for making derogatory remarks about Gypsies and Jews, Israel's ambassador said Monday.

Ambassador Ilan Mor said in a statement that Ferenc Szaniszlo's award was given "to the wrong person for the very wrong reasons."

"His ideas do not belong in a free and democratic society like the one in Hungary," Mor said. "While Israel and Hungary are cooperating in fighting against anti-Semitism, such awards might cause (a) negative impression and lead us to the wrong direction."

In comments made on his show on Echo TV in 2011, Szaniszlo said Gypsies — or Roma — are monkeys and implied that Jews and Roma have carried out anti-Hungarian activities.

Minister of Human Resources Zoltan Balog said he was unaware of Szaniszlo's remarks and regretted giving him the Mihaly Tancsis award, but said he did not have the power to take it back.

Several earlier recipients of the Tancsis award said they would return the prize because they did not want to be associated with Szaniszlo, who was honored on Friday, even though a panel of journalists advising Balog had not supported the decision.

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