Europe

Hungary: Thousands rally in support of Soros-founded school

  • Demonstrators hold a banner reading "Why are you afraid of education?" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Janos Marjai/MTI via AP)

    Demonstrators hold a banner reading "Why are you afraid of education?" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Janos Marjai/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Backdropped by the Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace in the Castle of Buda, demonstrators hold a banner reading "Why are you afraid of education?" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)

    Backdropped by the Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace in the Castle of Buda, demonstrators hold a banner reading "Why are you afraid of education?" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Demonstrators hold a placard reading "Free country, free university!" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Janos Marjai/MTI via AP)

    Demonstrators hold a placard reading "Free country, free university!" as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University, as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s plan to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017. Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his “open society” ideals which contrast with the Orban’s efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. (Janos Marjai/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Some 70,000 people are attending a Budapest rally in support of a local university founded by American billionaire George Soros that is seen as a target for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's illiberal policies.

The Hungarian-born Soros founded Central European University in 1991. Amendments to Hungary's higher education law approved this week could force it to close or move.

The law requires CEU to change its name and open a campus in the United States. Protesters gathered outside Parliament on Sunday want President Janos Ader to veto the legislation.

CEU is accredited in New York state and in Hungary and students can earn degrees valid in both countries. The university currently enrolls over 1,400 students from 108 countries.

Orban's plans for an "illiberal state" contrast with Soros' "open society" ideal.