April 12, 2017 / 4:11 PM / 7 months ago

Hungarians protest against crackdown on education, NGO's

* Fourth large protest in two weeks against government

* PM Orban’s government proposes compromise on universities

* New bill on NGOs, seen stigmatising, still unchanged

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST, April 12 (Reuters) - Thousands of Hungarians protested in central Budapest on Wednesday against a perceived crackdown on free thought and education after the government put forward several laws restricting foreign universities and non-government organisations.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has advocated a self-styled ‘illiberal democracy’, has said strong national governments were necessary to preserve the European way of life in the face of migration and multiculturalism - at odds with liberal beliefs.

Protesters filled the capital’s Heroes’ Square and formed a heart shape and the word ‘CIVIL’ from human bodies. It was the fourth major street demonstration in the last two weeks as the government faces growing resistance a year before elections are due in April 2018.

“They have pressed ahead since 2010 with new moves ever day that hurt democracy in some way,” Robert Ferenczi, a 55 year-old protester from Budapest, told Reuters. (Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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