Staying on the subject of protests from the last post, I thought I'd write a few words on the Arpad flag. Although the flags with the "Arpad stripes" date back 700-1000 years they are fairly new to me. Even after living in Hungary for over a decade this is something I had never seen until last year. It was only when protestors started gathering at parliament and waving them around did I start to notice the different flags.
Of course there was also the now standard Hungarian flag with the center torn out that turns up at almost every rally. The same used in the 1956 uprising when the communist symbol was ripped out. People use this flag today to express their feelings that something is wrong at the core of the country, namely the government.
The Arpad flag is somehow different. This one isn't waved by small children or little old ladies as the holey flag is. The Arpad stripes have more sinister connotations. Unless I'm very much mistaken, it has become the de facto flag for very right-wing protests, and it's slightly scary.
This is the flag that was picked up by the definitely scary Arrow Cross , a political party based pretty much on the incredibly scary German Nazi party. The Arrow Cross killed thousands of Jews with a lot of the victims being shot and dumped into the Danube river. For a sad reminder of this, just take a stroll by the water next to the parliament building to see a statue comprised of lots of iron shoes set into the ground to commemorate those that died there.
While displaying the Nazi's swastika and the Arrow Cross' arrows are forbidden, flags with the Arpad stripes are still okay to wave around in public. So with it's background and the fact that a lot of the flag bearers are bomber-jacketed skinheads with the odd SS tattoo, I think it's quite healthy for me to be wary of these groups.
I intend to stay healthy, which is why, if I see a bunch of people with Arpad flags, I'll walk the other way.
-- You can read a perhaps more balanced view at Portfolio.
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