This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of February, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 21 February 2020
Author: László Földi, national security expert often hosted in pro-government television channels and former operations director for Hungary’s spy agency
Media outlet: Híradó M1, main morning news programme of MTVA, the Hungarian public broadcaster
Description of the anti-Muslim content: Introduced as a “security expert”, László Földi, was interviewed on the public service media's news channel M1 to comment on the Hanau shooting. On 19 February, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen opened fire on two shisha bars killing nine people of foreign heritage in the German town of Hanau before killing his mother and himself. The police confirmed it was a terrorist attack and that the shooter had racist motives. Broadcast across the whole country, László Földi said that the violence by the far-right terrorist Tobias Rathjen was “a form of self-defence” in reaction to “jihadist attacks”, within a “secret civil war about which no one talks”. Földi then stated that far-right terrorist violence is “a rational answer to immigration”. He said that the “self-defense reflex called extremism” appeared in Germany because “their normal world” and “their normal life” was “ruined by strangers in small towns”. Földi also said that the German government immediately reacts to far-fight attacks and labels them as terrorism, but when it’s an immigrant perpetrator, then the government is lenient because of the alleged deprived situation of migrants. Földi stated that the society is not going to tolerate this for too long. Földi also stated that since 2015 there are millions of “outlaws” (undocumented migrants) in the country and that the national security forces are unable to act against them because of the presumption of innocence. The news presenter nodded and did not challenge any of these claims. In the whole 6-minute interview, László Földi did not condemn once the Hanau shooting nor any other far-right attacks.
Myth Debunked: László Földi, one of a handful of national security “experts” who serve the Orbán government, is a regular guest on Hungarian propaganda media. His anti-migration, as well as anti-NGO remarks are in line with the Orban government’s hostility towards migration. In 2017 Földi, who is the ex-Director of Operations in the Hungarian Intelligence Agency, told pro-government TV channel EchoTV that Hungarian human rights organisations are “collaborators, war criminals, traitors, […] essentially saboteurs who have no legal status. In other words, they can be freely liquidated. That’s what the war laws prescribe: spies and saboteurs are not taken to courts, they are immediately eliminated.” About migration, in the same year, he told the pro-government propaganda outlet Magyar Idők that “the vast majority of migrants do not want to integrate” and that “the conflict between migrant throngs and the natives will escalate and this could result in outright violence”. By framing racially-motivated murders as “self-defence” during his 6-minute interview at M1 news programme, László Földi is condoning and inciting hostility and violence against a minority group. And he did so on a public service media broadcast across the whole country, in front of a presenter who did not question his racist and discriminatory claims. Földi is endorsing the white supremacist ideology that “western” identity is being attacked by massive inflows of immigrants from non-European and non-white countries. These beliefs have influenced the literature consumed by people such as Breivik in Norway and Tarrant in New Zealand, who have eventually committed murders in the name of love for “their country” and “their people”. Hosting on national TV an “expert” who supports these beliefs as legitimate is dangerous and irresponsible.
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