Why has a Hungarian anti-Semite received a state honour?

More than 30 prominent Hungarians from politics, business, science and culture have protested by returning the Order of Merit of the Knight's Cross given to them by the state after journalist Zsolt Bayer was awarded the same state honour. Bayer has repeatedly made headlines with anti-Semitic and xenophobic articles. Commentators explain why Bayer was given the award.

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Népszabadság (HU) /

Zsolt Bayer cultivates Hungary's culture of hate

The state tribute for Zsolt Bayer highlights once again how polarised Hungarian society is, author Endre Kukorelly writes in Népszabadság:

“Bayer has a knack for doing something I simply don't understand. Again and again he adds fuel to the fire, fanning our small, homemade culture of hatred and distrust. Instead of calming tensions down he strikes out wildly in all directions. ... Personally I don't know what to make of the disrupted, tragicomic state of our society. Hysteria on all sides, excessive polarisation, divisive hate tirades and deep, seemingly insurmountable trenches everywhere you look. ... If we don't take action our country will fall apart. No one descends from the devil, but something diabolical slumbers in every one of us. So I suggest that everyone start by exorcising their demons.”

Blog Törökgáborelemez (HU) /

A purely political decision

The award for Bayer puts above all those who gave him it in a bad light, writes political scientist and blogger Gábor Török in a post on Facebook:

“State honours have always been the result of political considerations in Hungary. After all it's the politicians who decide who gets one and who doesn't in the end. Generally speaking, we can conclude that the list of those awarded says more about the views of those who give the awards than about those who receive them. Ideally no one would receive a state honour for political reasons. Unfortunately, in Hungary the opposite is the case, and the decision to award this honour to Zsolt Bayer was also politically motivated.”