Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vowed to “eradicate liberal democracy” which, in turn, has set off a chain reaction by the left in the European Union state that led to a large demonstration on Sunday in the country’s capital of Budapest.
Orban has proposed a bill that would tighten regulations on foreign universities and would also affect Central European University (CEU), which was established and is still funded by George Soros.
Thousands of Hungarians gathered in protest, holding signs that read, “Freedom for Education,” among other things.
They marched past a number of universities — including CEU — in solidarity with the institutions of higher learning.
Soros, a native of Hungary, who has been criticized by Orban for his liberal policies, established the university in 1991 to “train a new generation of leaders committed to democracy after the fall of the Iron Curtain.”
In a statement, U.S. State Department acting spokesperson Mark Toner urged Hungary to “avoid taking any legislative action that would compromise CEU’s operations or independence.”
The education bill — which CEU has charged with being “targeted, discriminatory, and punitive” and as having an agenda to drive it out of Hungary — is up for debate beginning this week in the country’s parliament, which has a commanding majority of Orban’s lawmakers.
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