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Slovak Hungarians protest at new language law

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Slovak Hungarians protest at new language law

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Thousands of ethnic Hungarians living in Slovakia have held a protest rally in a sports stadium against the passing of a new law.

The Slovakian government has stipulated that from now on only the Slovak language can be used in public office and institutions. Many of those of Hungarian extraction see this as yet one more attempt to suppress their culture. 10 percent of Slovakia’s 5.4 million people have Hungarian roots – Budapest used to rule Slovakia within the old Austro-Hungarian empire. The new law has stoked already heated tensions between the two countries – only last week the Slovaks told Hungary’s president he was not welcome to enter the country on a personal trip to unveil a statute of a Hungarian hero. Although both languages are recognised in in some areas of Slovak life, relations have worsened since its government brought the rightist Slovak National Party – known for its harsh rhetoric against minorities – into its ruling coalition.