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Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Budapest after Wednesdayʼs uproarious parliamentary session, protesting the passing of new laws governing overtime and the establishment of administrative courts, with more demonstrations planned today, according to multiple reports.
Demonstrations started almost immediately after the completion of voting on the laws. Initially a few hundred protesters closed down Margaret Bridge, before marching towards Oktogon. From there, the growing crowd proceeded to the headquarters of governing party Fidesz, and blocked traffic on the Chain Bridge, before finally settling on demonstrating in front of Parliament on Kossuth tér, according to reports by independent news sites index.hu, hvg.hu, and 444.hu.
Protesters clashed with police at multiple locations in the city including the Fidesz headquarters on Lendvay utca, where a couple of protesters climbed onto a balcony as well. Despite initial claims by the authorities, saying that only protesters used tear gas on the police, multiple photos showed police officers in riot gear spraying tear gas into the faces of protesters from point-blank range. News portal hvg.huʼs live coverage also showed a videoconfirming the use of the substance.
On Thursday, Gergely Gulyás, minister in charge of the Prime Ministerʼs Office, claimed that “there is no significant resistance in society against the law.” Bizarrely, Gulyás also claimed that the protesters hate Christianity, saying “God protect Hungary from the open hatred of Christianity and disdain of the Christmas holiday that shone through their actions.”
According to a report by news portal zoom.hu, Gulyás also claimed that the protesters were paid by government bête noire George Soros, saying “the activists of George Soros ran amok in Budapest.”
According to a Facebook event page, hosted by Szabad Egyetem (Free University) and student unions, and entitled “Demonstration against the slave law / Student-worker solidarity,” another protest is due to take place outside Parliament today, beginning at 5 p.m., with thousands expected to turn out.
In their address on the Facebook page, in both Hungarian and English, the organizers adopt a strongly sarcastic tone.
“Dear Prime Minister! Dear All Interested! Merry Christmas!” – the invitation begins. “We had a wonderful year again: we managed to force the Soros university out of the country, to save the media from left-wing hegemony, to abolish the so-called ʼfieldʼ of gender studies, and to allow workers to labor for an extra 400 hours annually (since Hungarians are a hardworking folk)! We are rebuilding our national bourgeoisie, the courts are in proper hands (yours), we have solved the homeless issue by banning it, and we have saved our country from migrants. We thank Viktor Orbán for this year and for everything he has done for the Hungarian people! We are looking forward to your plans for 2019.”