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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK
Hungary blocks Hun minority bid
By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Budapest

Attila the Hun
A bust of Attila, legendary leader of the Huns
The Hungarian parliament have rejected an attempt by people claiming descent from Attila the Hun to be recognised as an ethnic minority.

The Huns conquered much of Europe in the 4th and 5th centuries AD but vanished from the history books after the death of their leader, Attila.

Some 2,500 people identified themselves as Huns on a petition presented to a Hungarian parliamentary committee.

Their bid for minority status, though a failure, has won them publicity.

After an hour-long debate, the Human Rights Committee of the Hungarian parliament rejected the idea of recognising the Huns with 17 against, four abstentions and no votes in favour.

Under Hungary's 1993 law on the rights of ethnic and national minorities, recognition would have meant state support for Hun schools, language and cultural institutions - rights already enjoyed by 13 existing minorities in Hungary.

'Cultural identity'

The group claiming to be Huns blamed the vote on what they called a pseudo-scientific opinion of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences - a 19th Century theory on the origin of the Hungarian people which leaves no room for the Huns, which they challenge in its entirety.

They say they will now take their fight for recognition to the Hungarian Constitutional Court and, if necessary, to the European Union.

This was the first time that a new group claiming minority status in Hungary has persuaded parliament to even consider their request.

The Huns swept across Europe from central Asia in the 4th and 5th centuries, conquering territory as far west as modern-day France.

Branded the scourge of God by the peoples he conquered in southern and western Europe, Attila the Hun has had a better press among the Hungarians, the Turks and other related peoples.

A spokesman for the group, Gyorgy Kisfaludy, told the BBC that to be a Hun today was a matter of feeling and cultural identity.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Hungary
10 Apr 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Hungary
06 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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