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Wiesel Returns Hungary Award on Anti-Semitism Concerns, AP Says

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel returned a Hungarian state award after officials paid homage to a writer who was a member of the Nazi-allied Arrow Cross regime during World War II, the Associated Press reported.

“I hereby repudiate the Grand Cross Order of Merit” received in 2004, the AP said yesterday, citing a letter Wiesel wrote to Laszlo Kover, Hungary’s speaker of parliament. Kover was among officials who attended a May 27 memorial ceremony to honor writer Jozsef Nyiro in the ethnic Hungarian part of Romania, where Wiesel was born, the AP said.

“It is with profound dismay and indignation that I learned of your participation,” along with Hungarian Secretary of State for Culture Geza Szocs and Gabor Vona, the leader of the far-right Jobbik party, the AP cited Wiesel as writing to Kover.

“I don’t believe in collective guilt, but I do believe in taking a position about matters that happen today,” said Wiesel, whose parents and sister were sent to Nazi death camps by wartime Hungarian officials, according to the AP. “To celebrate and honor leaders of fascist Hungary is wrong.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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