Rival Hungarian protesters take to streets | News | DW | 15.03.2012
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Rival Hungarian protesters take to streets

Protesters took to the streets of Budapest on Hungary’s national day, both for and against the government. Speaking to his supporters, Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned perceived EU interference in national affairs.

Competing rallies were held for and against the government of Hungary's center-right premier Viktor Orban as the county held its national day celebrations on Thursday.

Addressing his supporters outside parliament in Budapest, Orban hit out at the European Union over its attempts to change new laws on banking, the judiciary and data protection.

"We will not be a colony," Orban said, speaking at Kossuth Square to a crowd estimated at 100,000 people by Hungarian media, and at 250,000 by state news agency MTI.

Participants of the demonstration of the One Million for the Freedom of Press facebook group hold their rally on the Pest bridgehead

Protesters lamented a perceived attack on press freedom and the rule of law in the country

"Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate it and will not give up their independence and freedom. As a European nation we demand equal treatment. We will not be second class European citizens," Orban said.

Rivals condemn 'tyranny'

Opponents of the government assembled on the eastern Pest side of the Danube River, near the Elizabeth Bridge, having been called there by the "One Million for the Freedom of Press" Facebook group. Members of the protest accused Orban's Fidesz party of endangering the rule of law, democracy and press freedom.

"The law is our protection against tyranny!" said Laszlo Majtenyi, a former parliamentary commissioner for data protection.

According to photographers from the news agency AFP, just under 100,000 people were present at the opposition rally.

Hungary's national day marks the anniversary of the outbreak of a 1848 revolution against the country's Austrian Habsburg rulers, which was later suppressed with the help of Tsarist Russia.

rc/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)