BUDAPEST, Hungary - Right-wing extremists shout Nazi salutes and attack a man they believe is Jewish. Black-booted militants frighten aging Holocaust survivors.
Writings of authors linked to a pro-Nazi regime are recommended reading for schoolchildren. Hungary is seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, which the prime minister is now vowing to fight.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a gathering of Jewish representatives Sunday that anti-Semitism is "unacceptable and intolerable." The meeting of the World Jewish Congress is being held in Budapest to draw attention to a rise in anti-Semitism in this Eastern European country.
Much of the recent trouble began with Hungary's 2010 election, when disillusioned voters made the extremist right-wing party Jobbik the third-largest force in Parliament. Though Jobbik doesn't have the power to pass laws, it gained a stage for its anti-Semitic - and anti-Gypsy - rhetoric.
Jobbik lawmaker Marton Gyongyosi called last year for lists to be drawn up of government members and lawmakers with Jewish origins, claiming they could present a "national security risk."
The party also had an affiliated militia, the Hungarian Guard, whose members marched in black uniforms reminiscent of the Nazi era, intimidating Roma and elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors in Budapest and villages. Orban's government banned the Guard, but its members still show up at Jobbik events.
On Saturday, the party staged an "anti-Zionist" demonstration to protest the presence of the World Jewish Congress. A police attempt to ban the rally was overturned by the court. "Only a show of strength is effective against the unscrupulous Zionist advance," Gyongyosi told 1,000 people at the rally.
Orban's party, Fidesz, competes for some of its votes with Jobbik and has been accused during three years in power of doing too little to fight Jobbik's anti-Semitism. Recently, however, Orban has taken several steps, like a ban on certain public uses of Nazi and communist symbols such as the swastika and the red cross, and tighter controls on hate speech.
The accusations that Orban is not tough enough on extremism mark the dramatic transformation of a leader who rose in politics as an outspoken young activist against Soviet-backed communism to a leader regularly chastised by the European Union for policies deemed autocratic.