Anti-Hungarian sentiment and hate speech have risen to alarming proportions in recent days in Romania, as social media and news channels have been overflooded with nationalistic messages directed against the Hungarian community by Romanian politicians, journalists, social media influencers and opinion-makers.
In the midst of a political crisis, the Romanian political elite, with considerable boost from the media, once again flashes the so-called “Hungarian card”, and turns the public opinion against the Hungarian community in Romania. Instead of focusing on the issues at hand, namely an internal crisis within the largest political formation in Parliament – the Social Democratic Party (PSD) – with the potential of turning into a veritable governmental crisis, the media quickly managed to divert the public’s attention by launching a tirade of lies and openly xenophobic comments against the Hungarian community.
Last week, the leader of PSD, Liviu DRAGNEA, announced that they propose a vote of no confidence in Parliament against prime minister Sorin GRINDEANU and his cabinet for not fulfilling the promises made during the campaign. In preparing the motion, DRAGNEA and his party had conversations with several members of Parliament, among them the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR/RMDSZ), who were prepared to back the motion, on condition that the PSD-ALDE coalition supports a law aiming to extend the linguistic rights of the Hungarian community in Romania, as well as allow the use of their regional symbols, among other things. As soon as news of this reached the media, news outlets generated a nationalistic hysteria within hours, raising false alarms that the Hungarians were planning to take Transylvania from the Romanians.
Among the first to strike a chauvinistic tone was former president Traian BĂSESCU. He posted a message on his Facebook page in which he expressed anger and dismay at the idea that the coalition parties voted a law in the Senate, which allowed the 15th of March to become a national day for Hungarians in Romania. BĂSESCU launched into a series of lies and exaggerations claiming that the respective day is insulting to Romanians, because “tens of thousands of Romanians from Transylvania had been killed by the armies of the Hungarian counts, and entire villages had been wiped off the face of the earth” during the 1848-1849 revolution. Not content with distorting historical facts and openly lying in order to appeal to dormant nationalistic sentiment, and thus building political capital for himself, the former president ended his message by practically denying the Hungarian community their right to celebrate the national day of Hungarians within the territory of Romania: “Nobody is stopping Hungarians in Romania from celebrating the 15th of March in Budapest”. Ironically, it was the same Traian BĂSESCU, who on the 15th of March 2010, while still in office, called Hungarians in Romania his “dear fellow countrymen”, and praised the Hungarian revolutionaries of 1848-1849 for fighting for the common ideals of the European people.
The main propagators of the nationalistic hysteria have been certain news channels, with particularly xenophobic rhetoric displayed by politicians and journalists on talk shows of Realitatea TV and B1 TV. The host and the guests of Realitatea TV’s evening talk show entitled ”Jocuri de putere” (Power games) outdid each other in anti-Hungarian comments, fuelled by purposely incorrect interpretations of the law proposed by UDMR/RMDSZ. At one point the host, Rareș BOGDAN, with the purpose of shocking viewers, ranted about a “separate state in the middle of Transylvania”. One of his guests, the journalist Oreste TEODORESCU, referred to Hungarians as “backward and anachronistic”, simply for wanting more rights, and he openly threatened the Hungarian community with a veritable uprising of the Romanian majority, if they refuse to give up their requests. What is more, blatantly false captions were displayed during the entire duration of the show, with the sole purpose of inflaming the spirits and capturing the attention of the viewers with their sensationalistic content: “The Szekler flag becomes mandatory in Transylvania”, “Region with Kosovo-type special status in Transylvania”, “Transylvania in danger! Dragnea wants to auction it”, etc.
A well-known journalist and political analyst, Cristian Tudor POPESCU, went on Digi24 TV to share his views on the 15th of March becoming a national day for Hungarians in Romania, and like BĂSESCU and others, he spoke of historical facts in purposely exaggerated terms, further adding to an already agitated public mood and fuelling the anti-Hungarian rhetoric that had permeated the media: “The 15th of March represents the humiliation, the discrimination, the discrediting, the attacking and the killing of Romanians by the Hungarians.”
These are but a few examples of the xenophobic-chauvinistic messages and comments that have been circulating in the media and online in the past couple of days. The Mikó Imre Legal Services Assistance for Minority Rights condemns the extreme form of anti-Hungarian rhetoric that appeared in the Romanian mass-media and in the social media. Our organisation has submitted complaints to the National Council for Anti-Discrimination (CNCD) against politicians, journalists, social media influencers and all those who publicly voiced anti-Hungarian messages and thus contributed to propagating false, misleading and xenophobic content about the Hungarians in Romania, hurting the dignity of an entire community.
Source: Press Release – mikoimre3szek.ro