It is a sad day for democracy and for intellectual freedom. This morning, after an expedited process, Hungary’s Parliament voted 123 yes / 38 against for amendments to the National Higher Education Law that will make it impossible for Central European University (CEU) to operate.
CEU is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in central Europe, and a pillar of democracy. Founded after the fall of communism and “based on the premise that human fallibility can be counterbalanced by the critical discussion of ideas and that this critical spirit can be sustained best in societies where citizens have the freedom to scrutinize competing theories and openly evaluate and change government policies.”
The message sent in moving to shutter this great institution is clear. As MEP Tamás Meszerics – who was denied the opportunity to address assembly in opposition of the measure – wrote in his statement: the government hates everything it cannot control.
Hungarian Prime Minster, Viktor Orbán has long been a leading symbol of Europe’s rising radical right. The election of President Trump, I’m afraid, has only emboldened his efforts against democratic values.
The attack against CEU is a tragic move against a valuable institution, and raises disturbing implications for intellectual freedom and democracy around the world. We cannot allow leaders of any part to silence critical voices, legislate against reason, and stifle political dissent.
To be clear, the fight for CEU is far from over. In Budapest today, thousands took to the street to protest this outrageous legislation. CEU – which just days ago found itself fighting for its life – has a helpful guide of actions you can take to support the institution. Specifically, they encourage you to:
- Write a letter in solidarity with CEU
- Contact your MP, MEP, Senator/Representative, Ambassador, Hungarian Congressional Caucus
- Sign this Change.org petition
- Share your solidarity on social media using #istandwithCEU
- Use the #istandwithCEU profile picture found on CEU’s Facebook page
- Send suggestions or notifications of support to: Support_for_CEU@ceu.edu
I stand with CEU – do you?