Budapest – where the csardas has been popularized by Roma music bands and the Tokaji always helps in making new friends. Budapest – Elisabeth’s warm town where Sissi found, at last, her liberty and peace. Budapest – where the freedom (or the illusion of it) has been paid with blood…
Today, Budapest was – again – in turmoil. The little park from Deak Ferencz Ter was surrounded by police cars and ambulances. Extremists were fighting on the downtown streets, and it seems that these events are becoming more and more numerous. Hungarian colleagues told me that, in the last year, the attacks on gays, gypsies and prostitutes have doubled! And usually all these are happening in the downtown. The police seem powerless.
I’m trying to understand those people, but I cannot. What do they want? Why do they feel the need to fight, to beat Roma people, to ask for a gay-free Budapest? They are not poor. They are not uneducated. And they live in one of Europe’s most beautiful towns. Why not live and let others live? Why not being a fundamentalist in defending Budapest’s well-known tradition of liberty and freedom?
I love Budapest. But this town has also an ugly part: the extremists’ meetings in the Heroes Square, the (so frequent now) political turbulences, the increase degree of personal insecurity, the oppression of children and women by their ultra-orthodox Jewish fathers and husbands. I love Budapest. And it takes so little to still feel the smell of freedom: respect the other’s basic rights, live and let live! I love Budapest. And I hope – in fact I am sure – that these hard times will soon pass.
In Budapest you can really see in what a wonderful world we live. And this world will always be wonderful – in spite of all those who try to spoil this town. Hear Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World here: