Tom Lantos

Hungarians auction their state awards to protest columnist

More than a dozen Hungarians auctioned off their state awards on Monday, saying they no longer wanted them after a journalist and writer known for his anti-Semitic and racist references was granted a similar distinction last month.

Jeno Kaltenbach, a former ombudsman for minority rights, was the first to announce he was giving up his Cross of the Order of Merit after the award was given to Zsolt Bayer.

His act of protest was imitated by more than 100 others, including politicians, scientists, musicians, philosophers, writers, artists, journalists and filmmakers, though only a few joined the charity auction.

"Surrendering the award was a spontaneous reaction ......