Hungary Protests Against Closure of George Soros’ Central European University
At least 50,000 of people have taken part in a protest in Hungary to demand the abolition of laws which could force the closure of one of the Central European University founded by George Soros.
New rules introduced by the government mean the CEU would be unable to award diplomas because it is registered in the US.
The legislation has already been rushed through parliament.
Demonstrators in Budapest on April 9 want President Janos Ader not to sign the controversial legislation backed by the governing right wing Fidesz party of PM Viktor Orban.
The protesters took to the streets both to defend the CEU and protest against attempts by the government to pressure human rights and environmental groups which support refugees.
The government passed amendments to the Higher Education Act last week which would make it impossible for the CEU to continue working in Budapest – 26 years after it was set up by Hungarian-born billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros.
The Hungarian government opposes the liberal outlook of both the university and many non-governmental organizations.
The CEU has vowed to fight the legislation. The English-speaking university is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines.
George Soros has a strained relationship with Viktor Orban – a keen supporter of President Donald Trump – who has accused Soros of wanting a role in Hungarian politics and supporting the influx of migrants into Europe.
Viktor Orban recently claimed Hungary was “under siege” from asylum seekers.
However, the prime minister won a scholarship sponsored by George Soros to study at Oxford University and the pair were allies in the days immediately following the fall of communism in 1989.
The Central European University was founded to “resuscitate and revive intellectual freedom” in parts of Europe that had endured the “horrific ideologies” of communism and fascism. It occupies a building that began as an aristocrat’s palace before becoming state-owned offices for a planned socialist economy.
The university has 1,440 students – 335 from Hungary and the rest from 107 other countries and presents itself as a champion of free speech, with links to universities in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.