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10 Apr 2017

Erika Benke, BBC

Hungary: Crackdown leads to largest anti-govt. protests in recent history in support of Central European University & civil society

Thousands 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 country's most prestigious universities. New rules introduced by the government mean the Central European University (CEU) would be unable to award diplomas because it is registered in the US. The university was founded by philanthropist George Soros. The legislation has already been rushed through parliament. Demonstrators in the capital on Sunday want President Janos Ader not to sign the controversial legislation backed by the governing right-wing Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the demonstrations would not cause the government to back down. "There's no reason to," he said. "It's possible for CEU to fulfil the requirements set out in the new law - they have a year to comply." ...BBC Budapest correspondent Nick Thorpe says it was probably the biggest anti-government protest in Budapest since Mr Orban came to power seven years ago. 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.