WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Thursday after the Hungarian government recently awarded anti-Semitic journalist Zsolt Bayer with its Order of Merit:
“I condemn the awarding of the Hungarian Order of Merit to anti-Semitic and xenophobic journalist Zsolt Bayer. As Hungary approaches the 60th anniversary of its 1956 Revolution, which was grounded in the principles of democracy, human rights, and rule of law, I urge the Hungarian Government to disavow all forms of extremism and uphold the dignity of every human being. The Hungarian Government should condemn – not honor – extremists. Unfortunately, leading government officials have chosen to honor Mr. Bayer while he promotes anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, and xenophobic sentiments.
“However, I do commend the many Hungarians who have spoken out against this message of intolerance. To date, 109 Hungarians have returned their own state awards to protest the honor that was bestowed upon Mr. Bayer, including Andras Heisler, the head of the federation of Jewish communities; Jeno Kaltenbach, former Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities; Agnes Daroczi, Romani civil rights activist; and, most recently, Katerina Swett Lantos, the daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who was the only Holocaust survivor to have served in Congress. I welcome their strong statements of principle and call on all Hungarians to reject intolerance in all its forms.”