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Jewish groups protest Iran ex-leader's Hungary visit

By AFP

May 8, 2024 08:24 PM


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Hungarian Jewish organizations and the Israeli embassy have condemned a public university for inviting Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an event this week.

The Budapest-based Ludovika University of Public Service invited the politician -- who has said Israel is doomed to be "wiped off the map" and that the Holocaust was a "myth" -- to an academic meeting.

Two Hungarian Jewish congregations, together with a Jewish advocacy group, were the latest to protest the visit of "openly anti-Semitic" Ahmadinejad in a joint statement Wednesday.

They urged the university "to consider whether it wishes to allow Ahmadinejad to spread his dangerous and poisonous ideas within the walls of the institution".

The country's main Jewish organization also condemned the invitation, urging the university to give an explanation and to apologize to the Hungarian Jewish community.

The visit was in "direct contradiction to the principle of zero tolerance against anti-Semitism proclaimed by the Hungarian government", it added.

The Israeli embassy called the visit a "grave insult" that "tramples on the memory" of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

Ludovika University of Public Service did not respond to AFP's request for comment.

Hungary's Foreign Ministry said the government "does not interfere in university programs".

"The government has not received the former Iranian president. His program is a university program," it said in a statement.

Hungary hosts central Europe's biggest Jewish community with some 100,000 members.

According to Iran's ILNA news agency, Ahmadinejad arrived in Hungary to give a speech and take part in a meeting on environmental issues taking place at the university from May 6 to 10.

The 67-year-old, who was Iran's president from 2005 to 2013, is currently a member of an advisory board to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has close relations with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, voicing unequivocal support for Israel's military offensive on Gaza.

But Hungary also has a friendly attitude towards Iran. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto held talks in Tehran this February, marking a rare visit from an EU and NATO member state.


AFP


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