Hungarian MP accused of antisemitism over photo of dead pig inscribed with 'Soros'

Maya Oppenheim
Mr Orban, who has rejected the EU’s vision of liberal democracy, has made Soros a frequent victim of political campaigns: Getty

A Hungarian MP has shared a photo of a dead pig on Facebook etched with the words “O Volt A Soros” in what some critics have called a reference to billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros.

Janos Pocs, a lawmaker from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling party, said the photo was sent to him by someone in his electoral district.

The photo shows a group of people posing next to a slaughtered pig that has the words “O volt a Soros” inscribed on its charred skin. The phrase can either translate as “he was next in line” or as “This was Soros”.

“One pig less over there. Bon appetit!” Mr Pocs wrote on Facebook on Friday.

He has since denied there is any connection between Soros, who is a leading Democratic donor, and the pig’s engraving, telling Budapest-based news site the two things are wholly unrelated.

(Facebook / Pocs Janos)

The Open Society Foundation, an international organisation founded by Soros which seeks to promote democracy, has condemned the “shocking” photo and argued it plays on antisemitic tropes.

“This is a shocking attack against George Soros by a Fidesz member of the Hungarian Parliament,” a representative for the foundation said in a statement sent to The Independent.

“The photo Mr Pocs decided to publish is in a long and dark tradition of antisemitic imagery dating back to the Middle-Ages. It is another example of officially accepted antisemitism in Viktor Orban’s Hungary,” they continued.

“Born in Budapest in 1930, George Soros escaped the Holocaust by hiding his Jewish identity during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. To this day, George Soros’s support for Hungarians has totalled roughly €350 million since 1984 and has included scholarships, health care services, and humanitarian efforts.”

Soros, who was born in Hungary to a non-observant Jewish company, survived Nazi-Occupied Hungary and emigrated to England in 1947. The philanthropist is a long-standing critic of Mr Orban’s right-wing government and has been a long-time champion of groups promoting liberal, democratic and open-border values in eastern Europe.

Mr Orban, who has rejected the EU’s vision of liberal democracy, has made Soros a frequent victim of political campaigns and is even centring his 2018 election campaign on him.

His billboard campaign rallying against migration and foreign influence went so far as to use an image of Soros – who he has accused of undermining his anti-immigrant policies by putting his weight behind non-governmental organisations - smiling against a blue background.

It included the words “Don’t let George Soros have the last laugh”. Some of the billboards were defaced with the racist epithet “stinking Jew” in marker pen.

In a rare statement released back in July, Soros argued the campaign was antisemitic. “I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of antisemitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign”," the 87-year-old said.

At the time, a spokesman for Mr Orban, who has a wide lead in polls as he strives for a third consecutive term, insisted the campaign had nothing to do with antisemitism.

Around 100,000 Jews live in the Hungary but antisemitism remains a recurring problem in the country.

The far right have become increasingly emboldened in Hungary as anti-migrant sentiment has swelled. Mr Orban’s government strengthened Hungary’s southern border in 2015 against a big influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa into the EU.

Soros made headlines in October for giving £13.7 billion ($18 billion) to Open Society Foundation in one of the biggest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single institution.

Soros, who made substantial donations to Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful bid to be president, has donated the majority of his estimated $24.6 billion fortune to Open Society Foundations.

The organisation, which has branches in 37 countries, strives to promote democracy across the world with the explicit aim of advancing justice, education, independent media and public health. It has parted with nearly $14bn since it was established back in 1979 and has invested in programs which protect gays and lesbians and seek to tackle abuses by the police.

Soros' generously hefty contribution makes the foundation the third largest in the world – just behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Soros, who ranks 20th on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, rose to fame by betting against the pound in 1992 and used Quantum Fund to bet successfully that sterling was over-valued against the Deutsche Mark, forcing then Prime Minister John Major to pull the pound out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

He studied at the London School of Economics while juggling jobs as a railway porter and waiting tables but it was in the US where he made his fortune.