The Hungarian camerawoman who sparked outrage by tripping a refugee and his child as they fled police has apologized in a letter to a Hungarian newspaper.
Petra Laszlo said she was “truly sorry” about what happened Tuesday and shocked by her own actions.
But she also defended herself against the condemnation that rose up in response to footage of the incident. As a man stumbles away from a Hungarian policeman, clutching a bag in one arm and his son in the other, Laszlo angled her leg into his path, causing him to tumble to the ground. The clip turned Laszlo into a target of outrage and an instant symbol of Europe’s antagonism toward the migrants thronging at its borders.
“Something snapped in me. … I just thought that I was attacked and I have to protect myself,” Laszlo wrote in her letter to the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet, according to Newsweek. “It’s hard to make good decisions at a time when people are in a panic.”
Laszlo was fired from her job at N1TV, which the Associated Press described as an “ultranationalist online TV channel,” after footage of her kicking refugees went viral on social media.
Other journalists at the camp, a police-supervised checkpoint on the Hungarian-Serbian border, captured images of Laszlo kicking the knees of a young man and a teenage girl as they ran past her.
“I’m not a heartless, racist, children-kicking camerawoman,” Laszlo wrote in her letter, according to the New York Times. “I do not deserve the political witch hunts against me, nor the smears or often the death threats. I’m just a woman, and now an unemployed mother of small children, who made a bad decision in a situation of panic. I am truly sorry.”
On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a plan to make spots for 160,000 asylum seekers across Europe. But on much of the continent, including in Hungary, the site of major confrontations between migrants and police, antipathy toward absorbing new immigrants is high. Hungarian officials say their country opposes the European Union proposal.
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