Canadian immigration officials this week ordered a former leader of the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary out of the country prior to a speaking engagement in Montreal.
Csanad Szegedi was sent back to Budapest on a plane just before he was slated to address a Chabad group. Approximately 200 people who came out to hear Szegedi, who two years ago discovered he had a maternal Jewish grandmother and was ousted by Jobbik, instead heard a videotaped message.
“I acknowledge that I have a lot of sins,” Szegedi said. “And this is why I understand those people who are not happy me being here. But these sins I try to rectify not only at the verbal level but at the level of my actions.
“I have to tell the Canadian Jewish community … that I am exactly such a Jew as they are. I cannot help it — as you cannot help it.”
Szegedi, 31, was a leading figure in the neo-fascist Jobbik party for a decade and was known for his rabid anti-Semitism. After discovering his Jewish relative — an Auschwitz survivor — he made contact with Chabad representatives in Hungary. He since has embraced his Jewish roots and publicly denounced Jobbik.
His talk at Montreal’s Chabad of Westmount was titled “My Journey From Hater to Fighter of Hatred,” but the speaking engagement caused a backlash in Montreal’s Jewish community, with detractors charging that his denunciation of Jobbik is insincere and that he only embraced his Jewish identity after he failed to suppress the news through bribery.