Monday marked the end of a series of attacks that began on Friday last week, when foreign ‘antifas’ arriving in the country brutally assaulted passers-by selected on the basis of their attire. The antifas obviously concluded that Hungarians wearing black jackets or military gear were probably far-right sympathisers, who wanted to mark the anniversary of the siege of the Buda castle by the Soviet forces in 1945.
Antifa—short for the German Antifaschistische Aktion (Anti-Fascist Action)—is a radical, violent left-wing movement that traces its origins back to the 1930s, but has been resurrected in the early 2000s. Responsible for a number of brutal attacks on conservatives, liberals and freethinkers, both in the United States and in Europe, Antifa has so far largely been absent from Hungarian public life.
As our readers may recall, in 2020 US President Donald Trump threatened—and not for the first time— to classify the US radical left movement Antifa as a terrorist organisation. Back then, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany, the home country of the ‘anti-fascist activist community’, immediately spoke out in full solidarity with the group, which is mainly made up of young people in their twenties. There have also been attempts in the European Parliament to have the extremist group classified as terrorists, but to no avail.
This time, the attackers also came mostly from Germany.
The gang, armed with steel batons, rubber hammers and gas sprays, gloves lined with lead, wearing ski masks, attacked a man in his 40s in the 11th district of the Hungarian capital. The victim, Zoltán T., an employee of a tobacconist’s shop in the neighbourhood, suffered serious injuries. He had to be get more than 20 stitches in his head at a local hospital.
The attack was caught on video thanks to public surveillance camera.
A German couple, three Polish citizens, and a Hungarian couple were also brutally assaulted by probably the same gang.
A few days after the first attack the perpetrators were caught and their names have now been published in Bild, Germany’s biggest tabloid newspaper.
According to their information, the alleged attackers are Clara W. (22), Anna M. (25), Emilie D. (20), Moritz S. (20), Tobias E. (29) from Germany and Ilaria S. (38) from Italy. The German attackers were born in Saxony, Thuringia, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony respectively. Hungarian newspapers have also indicated that a Hungarian-speaking woman helped some of the attackers, but the name of that person has not been revealed.
Right-wing activist Ábel Bódi has called on people not to use the self-definition of Antifa: ‘Antifa is a play on words. No one should use it. It labels the enemies of antifas as fascists, but this is clearly nonsense. These terrorists who went on a rampage in Budapest were far-left and communist folks.’
Most Hungarian commentators highlighted that the attackers were foreigners who have come to disturb the peace in Hungary.
Conservative jurist and author Tamás Kötter published a similar condemnation of the events in an op-ed published on Mandiner: ‘(You have come) so far and (will go) no further—because you shall not pass!
From time to time, liberal democracy not only fails to solve the crisis caused by its own functioning, but even exports it.’
One Hungarian left-wing politician has been forced to publicly dissociate himself from the attacks. András Jámbor, who is an independent MP but enjoys the support of far-left radical groups, such as the Szikra movement and the far-left Mérce website, of which he used to be the chief editor, tried to make it clear in a statement that he had nothing to do with the events:
‘Anyone who knows my work, or that of Szikra, knows that we condemn all forms of violence. So we condemn the violent attacks over the weekend, be they Antifa or Nazi attacks, which incidentally also affected our members who were peacefully protesting at the Fisherman’s Bastion.’
Jámbor is referring here to news that far-right demonstrators also supposedly attacked people in Budapest during the weekend.
However, there has been no reports on anyone attacked by far-right activists having suffered serious injuries, as opposed to those attacked by the foreign thugs.
The worst off is musician László D., whose face was slashed beyond recognition by his attackers.
‘We are very upset about all this. I dare not go out on the street, I take a taxi even to the hospital,’ he told one newspaper.
The arrested foreigners refused to answer even the most basic questions posed to them by the police during their questioning. According to the Budapest Police, the number of women among the attackers was surprisingly high, and in some cases half of the attackers were female. Those arrested, if found guilty, are facing prison time according to Hungarian law.