Hungarian University Makes Holocaust Education Mandatory

A Catholic university in Hungary has made a course in Holocaust education mandatory for all its students, the first initiative of its kind in Europe according to Israel's envoy to Budapest, AFP reports.

Starting September, students at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary's main religious higher educational institution, must take a course titled "The Holocaust and its memory".

"Anti-Semitism in any form is incompatible with Catholicism," the university's rector Szabolcs Szuromi said at a press conference to announce the move Tuesday.

The course content has been compiled by professors at a Tel Aviv University, he added.

Szuromi said the idea was sparked by recent remarks by Israel's ambassador to Budapest, Ilan Mor, that Holocaust education was the key to preventing anti-Semitism.

The initiative was "unique on a European level", said Mor, who was also in attendance.

As many as 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, almost all in 1944.

According to surveys, anti-Semitic attitudes have risen in recent years in EU member Hungary, which is home to Central Europe's largest Jewish community of around 100,000.

Members of the country's second most popular political party, Jobbik, have made regular anti-Semitic statements.

In November of 2012, one of Jobbik’s members released a statement saying that a list should be compiled of all of the Jewish members of government.

He was followed by another Jobbik member who called publicly for the resignation of a fellow MP who claimed to have Israeli citizenship.

Last summer, at the height of Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a town mayor linked to Jobbik was filmed ordering the hanging of effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres in protest against the conflict.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, a Hungarian prosecutor ordered a man to read up on the Holocaust after he shared a picture on social media depicting Auschwitz as an imaginary fun camp.

In February 2010, the Hungarian parliament made denying the genocide committed by the Nazi regime a crime punishable by a maximum three-year prison sentence.

Suspending jail sentences or the pressing of criminal charges on condition of fulfilling certain tasks is common in Hungary since a reform of the country's criminal code in 2012.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *