BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s Supreme Court upheld Thursday a decision by the National Election Committee forcing state radio and television to run a far-right party’s election advertisement that refers to “Gypsy criminals.”
The court said the broadcasters must give equal treatment to all political parties during an election campaign and that the broadcasters are not responsible for the ad’s content.
As in other European countries, Gypsies, or Roma, form a minority and face widespread discrimination.
The media asked the court to block the ad by the far-right Jobbik party, saying it was offensive and did not comply with broadcast rules.
In it, a young woman who is afraid to go out into the street asks: “Are Gypsy criminals allowed to do whatever they want?” as a hooded figure lurks.
Jobbik’s 30-second ad also points the finger at corrupt politicians, banks and multinational companies, saying they are “parasites” sucking on the country’s blood.
Nationwide municipal elections are being held Sunday and Jobbik said it would sue the state media for compensation for rejecting the ad, which they were supposed to have started running from a week ago.
Jobbik got 16.7 percent of the votes in April’s parliamentary elections and are the second-largest opposition group in the legislature, close behind the Socialists, formerly the ruling party.
The party has attracted voters primarily in Hungary’s poorer countryside regions, especially in the northeast, where unemployment is sometimes more than double the national average of 11 percent and where tension between Roma and the majority population is most severe.
During the current campaign, Jobbik proposed that Gypsies in the eastern city of Miskolc accused of being criminals be resettled in a guarded area with a 10 p.m. curfew and that Gypsy children be sent to boarding schools to ensure their education.
Last year, police arrested several men suspected of carrying out a series of attacks on Gypsies in small villages in which six people, including a 5-year-old boy and his father, were killed. The case is expected to go to trial soon.