Pro-Palestinian campus protests spread from U.S. to Europe

28-Apr-2024 by https://news.cgtn.com/

Hundreds of Sciences Po university students gather to continue their protest against the French government's policy on Israeli attacks on Gaza in Paris, France, April 26, 2024. /CFP

Hundreds of Sciences Po university students gather to continue their protest against the French government’s policy on Israeli attacks on Gaza in Paris, France, April 26, 2024. /CFP

Pro-Palestinian protests have spread on campuses from the U.S. to the UK and France, showing solidarity with Palestinians and demanding action over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. 

Dozens of students rallied at University College London (UCL) on Friday, with banners calling it “complicit in genocide” and demanding it “divest from death.”

Chanting “no more money for Israel’s crimes” and “London students, it’s our time – shut it down for Palestine,” UCL students with keffiyehs and Palestinian flags sense a movement gaining momentum after unrest on U.S. campuses has also spread to France. 

“There’s lots and lots of support, so we’re really excited about how the movement’s grown,” Rob, a 19-year-old UCL student who declined to give his last name, told The National. 

Also on Friday, tensions flared in front of Paris’ prestigious Sciences Po university over the conflict in Gaza, as pro-Israeli protesters came to challenge pro-Palestinian students occupying the building. Police moved in to keep the two groups apart. 

Chanting their support for the Palestinians, some students had been occupying a Sciences Po building since the night, displaying Palestinian flags in windows and over the entrance. Several wore the black-and-white keffiyeh head scarf that has become an emblem of solidarity with Gaza.

They demanded the institution condemn Israel’s actions, in a protest that echoed similar demonstrations on U.S. campuses.

“When we see what is happening in the United States, and now in Australia, we’re really hoping it will catch on here in France, the academic world has a role to play,” 22-year-old Hicham, a student at Sciences Po, told Reuters.

Another student named Zoe told Reuters, “We hope that will spread to all universities and beyond. We won’t give in until the genocide in Gaza ends.” 

Pro-Palestinian students carry signs as they protest at the University of California in Los Angeles, U.S., April 25, 2024. /CFP

Pro-Palestinian students carry signs as they protest at the University of California in Los Angeles, U.S., April 25, 2024. /CFP

In the U.S., pro-Palestinian protests have spread to college campuses across the country, stoked by the mass arrest of over 100 people on Columbia University’s campus last week.

On Saturday, pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested on a handful of U.S. university campuses. 

The Indiana University police department in Bloomington said in an emailed statement that 23 protesters were arrested there, adding that it continues to support peaceful protests on campus that follow university policy. 

In addition to a ceasefire, protesters are demanding that their schools divest from companies involved with Israel’s military and are seeking an end to U.S. military assistance for Israel along with amnesty for students and faculty members who have been disciplined or fired for protesting.

School leaders at several universities have responded in the past week by asking police to clear out camps and arrest those who refuse to leave. While pledging they defend free speech rights to protest, the leaders say they will not abide activists infringing on campus policies against hate speech or camping out on university grounds.

At Arizona State University, campus police arrested 69 protesters early Saturday, the school said in a statement.

The university said “a group of people – most of whom were not ASU students, faculty or staff – created an encampment and demonstration” and were arrested and charged with criminal trespass after refusing to disperse.

(With input from agencies)