Hungarians Protesting Closure of Soros-Funded University Face Off With Riot Police Outside Parliament

Thousands of students marched on the Hungarian parliament in Budapest late on April 12, protesting the potential shutdown under a new law of a George Soros-funded university.

Central European University, founded by Hungarian-born American financier George Soros after the fall of communism in 1991, says the new law “would make it impossible” to continue its operations in Hungary.

University President and Rector Michael Ignatieff said in a video statement on April 1 the university would continue to call on the government to withdraw the legislation, which was signed by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday and which places limitations on foreign universities in Hungary. He said the university was open to dialogue with the government, but that it “simply cannot accept this legislation.” In an interview published by Deutsche Welle on Wednesday, he described the legislation as “a direct political attack by the government on a free institution.”

The United Nations has called on the Hungarian government to reconsider the new law, saying it was “aimed at undermining” CEU. The UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said, “The new law targets freedom of opinion and expression in Hungary, freedom of academic pursuit, the role that scholarship and research play in the expansion of knowledge and the development of democratic societies."

More than 1,000 international cognitive scientists, including two Nobel Laureates, backed the university in a letter published on the CEU website. Credit: via Storyful