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16th Dec 2017

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Thousands protest Hungary university bill

  • A previous protest against the new university bill (Photo: Nora Koves)

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Budapest on Sunday (9 April) to rally against Hungarian legislation that would close down Central European University (CEU).

According to newswires, the crowds chanted that they wanted president Janos Ader to veto the bill on Monday. Ader's signature is required for the proposal to become law.

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The anger is about new legislation that would require universities to have a campus and faculties in the country where the institute is registered. This would mean CEU, founded by Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros shortly after the fall of communism, would have to close.

The press agency Reuters quoted one of the protest's organisers, a PhD student, Kornel Klopfstein.

“The government is always looking for someone to fight with, and Soros seems like a perfect person for this because he funds NGOs in Hungary and he funds CEU as well,” said Klopfstein.

Estimates for the number of participants in the protest ranged between 60,000 and 80,000.

“We have to show strength with our numbers. I'm glad that so many people showed up. [Prime minister Viktor] Orban understands only the rules of power, and our power comes from our numbers,” AFP quoted protester Viktor Szakal as saying.

The Hungarian government has denied that the bill is aimed at CEU.

Pressure mounts on Hungary over university law

EPP group leader Manfred Weber calls for the European Commission to investigate Hungary, but the centre-right party still stands by prime minster Orban in the wake of international uproar over legislation targeting the Central European University.

Anti-Soros university bill sparks protest in Budapest

Thousands gathered around the Central European University on Tuesday to protest against a legislative bill that targets it, while the US embassy and the German president expressed their support for the institution.

Opinion

The university so disliked by Orban

In a world with many new phrases like 'fake news' or 'alternative facts', Viktor Orban's government in Hungary is taking a more familiar approach to shutting down academic free expression in Hungary.

Opinion

Orban’s unpatriotic attack on CEU

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, wants to see the closure of Central European University with recent legislative changes. But his actions are truly difficult to justify when thinking as a patriot.

Analysis

Hungary's university protests, a path for change?

Hungary has seen mass protests over the last weeks in support of the Budapest-based Central European University, targeted by prime minister Orban's latest legislation. But it is unclear how the new street momentum will be transformed into political power.

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