Thousands demonstrate for CEU once again

History

Thousands of protesters hit the streets once again Tuesday in support of the Central European University, demonstrating against legislation passed by the Hungarian Parliament, regularly cited in the media as “lex CEU,” which threatens to make the institutionʼs continued operation impossible, according to Hungarian online news portal index.hu. 

Protesters in front of the Parliament building yesterday. (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

The demonstration began in front of the CEU building on Nádor utca, from where protesters marched to Kossuth tér, in front of the Parliament building. After numerous speeches in front of the university, the crowd chanted words such as “traitors,” “Russians go home,” and “dictator” in front of the Parliament building. After singing the Hungarian anthem shortly before 8 o’clock in the evening, the crowd dispersed peacefully.

Index.hu reported a “slight scuffle” between protesters in the first row and a wall of police officers defending the building, caused by demonstrators wanting to fly a European Union flag from the Parliament. Socialist MP Ágnes Kunhalmi reportedly then took the flag into the building and flew it from one of the windows.

Hungarian Police later said in the evening that no police operations had taken place during the protest. “The demonstration preserved its peaceful character, no operations took place,” the police said in a statement issued on police.hu.

According to reports, as a continuation of the demonstrations Tuesday, the bridges of Budapest will be closed temporarily today. Civilians are reported to be closing one bridge at a time every two hours in Budapest. Szabadság (Liberty) Bridge is scheduled to be closed at 8 a.m., Lánchíd (Chain Bridge) at 10 a.m., Elisabeth Bridge at 12 p.m., Margaret Bridge at 2 p.m., and Petőfi Bridge at 4 p.m.

Hungary’s Parliament yesterday passed legislation modifying the law on higher education in an expedited procedure. The legislation threatens to put an end to the operations of the Central European University in Hungary, according to online news portal index.hu.

The Central European University has condemned Parliament’s passage of amendments to the law on higher education, claiming the legislation threatens academic freedom and vowing to contest its legality. The U.S. Embassy expressed disappointment with respect to the passing of the law, which has also been strongly condemned by academics around the world.

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