Hungarian Catholic university makes Holocaust education compulsory

A view of Budapest, seen on February 8, 2010 (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)

Budapest (AFP) - A Catholic university in Hungary has made a course in Holocaust education mandatory for all its students, the first initiative of its kind in Europe according to Israel's envoy to Budapest.

From September, students at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary's main religious higher educational institution, must take a course titled "The Holocaust and its memory".

"Anti-Semitism in any form is incompatible with Catholicism," the university's rector Szabolcs Szuromi said at a press conference to announce the move Tuesday.

The course content has been compiled by professors at a Tel Aviv university, he added.

Szuromi said the idea was sparked by recent remarks by Israel's ambassador to Budapest Ilan Mor that Holocaust education was the key to preventing anti-Semitism.

The initiative was "unique on a European level", said Mor, who was also in attendance.

As many as 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, almost all in 1944.

According to surveys anti-Semitic attitudes have risen in recent years in EU member Hungary, which is home to Central Europe's largest Jewish community of around 100,000.

Members of the country's second most popular political party, Jobbik, have made regular anti-Semitic statements.