Hungarian journalist fired for kicking and tripping refugees
A Hungarian journalist – a TV camerawoman, Petra Laszlo – was fired Wednesday. She was filmed kicking and tripping Syrian refugees crossing into Hungary.
Budapest, Hungary — A Hungarian camerawoman for an ultranationalist online TV channel has been fired after reporters filmed her kicking and tripping migrants as they fled from police.
Tuesday's footage went viral internationally within hours on social media. The N1TV channel's editor, Szabolcs Kisberk, said in a statement that employment of the camerawoman, widely identified as Petra Laszlo, had been "terminated with immediate effect." He said she "behaved unacceptably" at a police-supervised collection point for Arabs, Asians and Africans crossing the border from Serbia near the village of Roszke.
In videos and images posted online by multiple videographers and photojournalists, Laszlo can be seen making sideways karate-style kicks into the knees of two people — a young man and a pony-tailed teenage girl — as they ran past her. Both stumbled but neither fell as Laszlo continued filming.
She also was seen filming a running man carrying a young boy in his arms — then sticking out her leg to trip him as he passed. The man and boy tumbled to the ground, the man falling on top of the child. The boy can be seen crying in apparent pain as the man leaps up to curse at the camerawoman, who continues to film him.
Much of N1TV's content centers on the activities of the far-right Jobbik party, which wants all migrants deported.
Two left-wing opposition parties — former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's Democratic Coalition and the Dialogue for Hungary — both said they would report Laszlo to police in hopes of getting her charged with assault, a crime with a potential prison sentence. Dialogue for Hungary lawmaker Timea Szabo said Laszlo demonstrated "the pits of human behavior."
Police did not reply to an Associated Press request for comment.
The AP was unable to obtain a telephone number for Laszlo. A Facebook page attributed to Laszlo could no longer be found Wednesday. Emails to Kisberk and other N1TV staff members were not answered.
Tensions between asylum seekers and police have been running high for days near Roszke, where a cross-border rail line guides newcomers to a field where police instruct them to wait for buses that will carry them to a refugee registration camp. But the buses come infrequently, leaving hundreds stranded for hours or even overnight in the cold. For the past three days, hundreds of frustrated asylum-seekers have pushed through police lines and walked up the main motorway north to Budapest.
Meanwhile, in France, the government abruptly shifted, agreeing to take in 24,000 asylum-seekers over the next two years, it was an abrupt reversal for a country that just recently was pressing Italy to shut its borders to stop migrants en route to France, and assigning hundreds of more police to patrol its porous border with Britain at Calais, reported The Christian Science Monitor.
Behind the "remarkable" shift, says Paul Vallet, an independent international relations expert based in Geneva, lies the psychological impact of the death of the three-year-old Syrian, Alan, whose body washed ashore last week as his family tried to reach Europe. He also cited the expanding profile of the people, particularly Syrians, risking everything to reach Europe. “People are leaving their home countries out of desperation and we have a moral obligation in Europe to welcome and help people,” said protester John Gillespie, holding up a sign with a photo of Alan.
While the current pro-refugee sentiment in France appears to be genuine, many are waiting for concrete moves. Ministers from EU countries, including France, are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Sept. 14 to decide on measures to better deal with the flow of migrants.