Europe

Hungary award returned after 'racist' writer honoured

Tom Lantos Image copyright AP
Image caption Tom Lantos, who died in 2008, had been the only Holocaust survivor in the US Congress

The daughter of a former US congressman who survived the Holocaust has returned a distinguished award to Hungary in protest at its decision to honour a writer accused of anti-Semitism.

Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, had been honoured for work with minorities.

She said granting the same award to writer Zsolt Bayer had "sullied" the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit.

She said he "deserved censure not honour for his loathsome writings".

Ms Lantos Swett is the latest of about 100 recipients of Hungarian state awards to have returned them in protest at the decision to honour Bayer.

She has said she hopes her actions will make the Hungarian government think twice about associating itself with the newspaper columnist, who has compared the country's large Roma population to animals and said all Muslims older than 14 were "potential murderers".

The writer has also written many articles condemned by critics as anti-Semitic.

'Exemplary'

Katrina Lantos Swett had received the Knight's Cross in 2009 for her work in setting up the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest which focuses on minority rights.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington earlier urged Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and President Janos Ader, who respectively nominated and granted the award to Bayer to "immediately" rescind it.

Bayer, who is a member of Mr Orban's Fidesz party, received the award for his "exemplary journalistic activities", which have included writing about the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and the fate of Hungarian prisoners in the Soviet Union.

Last year, he said he regretted some of the language denounced as racist or anti-Semitic.

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