The Hungarian government says an anti-immigration poster campaign featuring the face of billionaire philanthropist George Soros will end at the weekend. David Doyle reports.
The graffiti reads "Because of these the word Jew is an insult" Anti-immigration posters in Hungary, featuring the face of Jewish billionaire philanthropist financier George Soros, have sparked allegations of anti-Semitism. Now the Hungarian government says the six-week campaign - which features Soros's smiling face and the words "Don't let Soros have the last laugh" - will finish at the weekend. But Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff Janos Lazar denied the posters are anti-Semitic. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN'S CHIEF OF STAFF JANOS LAZAR, SAYING: "I think what makes a good billboard is that it draws attention to some danger. The danger is not George Soros himself but what he represents in the case of immigration. Our problem with George Soros is not that he is of Jewish origin, I categorically deny and refuse this. The government has never ever had such intention or thought and never will have." The right-wing Hungarian government has long been at odds with Soros, who funds open democracy organisations and supports more open immigration. Soros said earlier this week that the billboards are reminiscent of "Europe's darkest hours". Criticism as well from former UN chief Kofi Annan, and Israel's foreign ambassador who said the campaign "sows hatred and fear". But the Israeli foreign ministry later issued a "clarification", contradicting the ambassador and saying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism. That move appeared to be designed to align Israel more closely with Hungary ahead of a visit to Budapest by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu next week.