April 25, 2017 / 11:30 AM / 4 months ago

Silent protesters block Hungarian parliamentary committee

Activists carrying banners and Hungarian and European Union flags protest at a meeting of the Hungarian parliament's justice committee against a bill tightening rules on civil organisations in Budapest, Hungary April 25, 2017.Laszlo Balogh

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Activists broke up a meeting of the Hungarian parliament's justice committee on Tuesday, in a protest against plans to increase scrutiny over civil organisations.

In one of the most unusual displays of opposition to Prime Minister Viktor Orban since he took power in 2010, a dozen activists stood around the committee table and silently held up signs saying "We want to have a say" and "No to the stigmatisation of civilians".

Parliamentary guards asked them to leave but they refused, a Reuters photographer reported. After a break, the meeting continued with the activists in the room.

Tens of thousands of Hungarians have protested in Budapest in the past two weeks against proposals to restrict foreign universities and non-governmental organisations.

The bill would require NGOs with foreign donations of at least 7.2 million forints ($25,000) to register with authorities and declare themselves as foreign-funded.

NGOs, many of which receive grants the Open Society Foundation founded by Hungarian-American tycoon George Soros, often speak up on behalf of migrants, clashing with Orban's anti-immigrant stance.

($1 = 286.69 forints)

Reporting by Krisztina Than and Laszlo Balogh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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