Far-right activists have boarded up a newly inaugurated rainbow-colored Black Lives Matter statue of liberty on Ferenc Square in Budapest’s IX district.
The municipality of Ferencváros announced a sculpting competition last August, the winners of which would have their creations placed around the district’s streets. Six winners were picked, among them Péter Szalay’s rainbow colored kneeling Statue of Liberty representing the Black Lives Matter movement.
The statue has received significant backlash from pro-government and right-wing critics, such as pro-government publicist and Fidesz-founder Zsolt Bayer, who said “we will tear it down the next day.”
Far-Right Activists Oppose BLM Statue
The far-right Mi Hazánk Movement believes that the statue is an “anti-European, anti-white, anti-heterosexual, and anti-Christian symbol.” Party Leader László Toroczkai said that they will do everything in their power to prevent the survival of the piece.
Mi Hazánk activists led by Toroczkai, along with members from the Hungarist and white supremacist Légió Hungária movement, showed up shortly after the statue was put on display at Ferenc Square and covered it up on all four sides using OSB boards with crosses on top of them. Party stickers were placed on the faces of all four boards.
Police showed up to conduct background checks on the activists, and a minor conflict even sprung up when two men counter-protested against the activists.
Two Types of Reactions to BLM Statue
Péter Szalay’s statue is set to remain on display for another two weeks. According to the judges of the competition, the piece brings to light current political issues raised by the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movements.
Szalay has already stated that he expected the statue would become an issue of domestic politics. He even expects it to be destroyed and believes that its destruction would add to the political message the piece aims to portray.
Krisztina Baranyi, mayor of Ferencváros, told Euronews that the aims of BLM to raise awareness to police brutality and racism are just as relevant in Budapest as anywhere else. Baranyi was also present at Ferenc Square when the statue was raised.
The government does not share the mayor’s viewpoint. Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás stated in a government press conference that BLM in the United States is a fundamentally racist movement, which does not recognize the equal rights of different races.
Featured photo illustration by MTI/EPA-KEYSTONE/Salvatore Di Nolfi