Krisztina Morvai, member of the European Parliament for Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, was turned away from from a lecture in Eastern-Europe’s only school for students of Roma nationality. One of the most outspoken politicians of a party well-known for its anti-Roma agenda was told of the news while already in the school.Krisztina Morvai visited Gandhi High School in the south-Hungarian city of Pécs as part of her nation-wide series of political discussions among the base of the far-right party. Morvai describes these townhall-style events as discussions in “municipalities and communities where the co-existence of Romas and the majority society is filled with tension.”
In Pécs, the story of Morvai’s explorations of the country intersected with another program agenda, one funded by the EU. Gandhi High School wanted to host speakers from the European Parliament for lectures that would provide an overview of the decision-making mechanisms of the European Union. According to students of Gandhi, they were also promised a trip to Brussels under the auspices of the same program.
The high school in question, bearing the name of the pacifist political leader Mahatma Gandhi, is a unique institution. It is dedicated to raise a new generation of Hungarian Roma intellectuals: to prepare Roma youth for their university studies while also providing instruction in Roma languages, art and tradition.
According to the head-mistress of the school, Erzsébet Gidáné Orsós, Morvai was the first among Hungarian members of the EP to register her interest in a visit to Gandhi. But according to Morvai, Gandhi was to host her on her political tour; as such, she arrived to Gandhi to hold an “unusual lesson in history.” Afterwards, she would have been particularly keen to hear the reactions of the Roma students.
Morvai, a euro-sceptic representative of the European Parliament, was already on location, speaking to teachers in the high school, when the head-mistress of Gandhi told her that she could not hold “class” in the high school. Parents who received news of the unusual lesson in history demanded the cancellation of the event. Roma activists and trustees of the foundation which operates the high school also expressed their outrage – apparently the headmistress was alone in the school’s leadership in seeking “dialogue” with one of the most prominent figures of the Hungarian far-right.
On the day of her visit, Morvai was also scheduled to speak to far-right voters in Pécs at two other forums. “There is an influential stratum of leeches (gypsies and non-gypsies) who live off of the destitution of the gypsies. They are offended when real problems of the minority are brought up, such as dependency on aid, maintenance of a lumpen life-style and seven-eight children a family,” she said in reaction to the incident later in the afternoon, at a forum held for her supporters.
The audience of about 40 raised complaints about life in the south-Hungarian city, including truculence, threats, theft, verbal insult and positive discrimination for the Roma population.
On far right web portals, Morvai has already made available three excerpts of the material she is collecting during her tour for a book project. In the book, Morvai wants to present “gypsies advocating a normal life-style, who think honorably” but who are forced by a stratum of “fake representatives” to organize their lives around social benefits and criminality.