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19/01/2008

French personalities press for saving Budapest's Jewish quarter

Paris, January 9 (MTI) - Over 300 French intellectuals asked President Laszlo Solyom, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky to help save the World Heritage sites of Budapest, including the old Jewish quarter, Jean-Pierre Frommer, head of the French cultural association popularising Hungarian culture in Paris, told MTI on Wednesday. The petition of Mardis hongrois de Paris (Hungarian Tuesdays in Paris) sent to Budapest earlier this week was signed by 313 public personalities, including mayors, writers, architects, conservationists and NGO presidents.

    The signatories asked the Hungarian leaders to "impose a full ban on any demolition or construction activities in the area, and draft an urban rehabilitation plan to preserve and revitalize the architectural complex and cityscape known as Jewish quarter".

    In the recent past a number of beautiful late 19th-early 20th century buildings in the area were illegally destroyed. Most significantly, an apartment building in the Jewish quarter on historical Kiraly Street was pulled down to make way for a new development.

    In the petitioners' view, the area, forming part of UNESCO's World Heritage is not only Hungary's treasure but that of the whole world, and should be preserved through "political vision and will".

    The quarter, located in Budapest's 7th district in a tiny area known as the "Jewish triangle", bordered by the city's three large synagogues, was home to the thriving life of a uniquely open Jewish community in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, until institutionalized racism reduced it to a secluded ghetto during the Holocaust.

Source Budapest Times

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