Students at prestigious Paris university occupy campus in pro-Palestinian protest

Parisian students inspired by the Gaza Strip set up solidarity camps on campuses in the United States, which blocked access to a campus of a prestigious French university on Friday, prompting administrators to move all classes online .

The pro-Palestinian protest kicked off a dramatic day at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, known as Sciences Po, which counts President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Gabriel Attal among its staff. many famous alumni.


Protesters first occupied a central campus building and blocked its entrance with trash cans, wooden platforms and a bicycle. They also gathered at the windows of the building, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans and displayed Palestinian flags and signs.


Students block Sciences-Po university, Friday April 26, 2024, in Paris. Students at a prestigious university resumed pro-Palestinian protests on Friday, days after French police broke up a protest, inspired by Gaza solidarity camps on campuses across the United States. Dozens of Sciences-Po students blocked the entrance to a campus in central Paris with chairs and bicycles. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Schaeffer)

Later Friday, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters clashed in a tense confrontation on the street outside the school. Riot police intervened to separate the opposing groups.

As night fell, a dwindling group of pro-Palestinian protesters refused to move, ignoring police orders to evacuate the street and warnings of possible arrests. Eventually, the demonstrators exited the building, waving a large Palestinian flag, to the cheers of the supporting demonstrators outside. They then began to move away from the area peacefully, under police surveillance.

Among the demonstrators' demands was that Sciences Po sever its ties with Israeli schools. In an email addressed to students, Sciences Po administrator Jean Bassères committed to holding a public meeting in the coming week and suspending certain disciplinary procedures against students. In exchange, students “undertake to no longer disrupt classes, exams and all other activities at the establishment,” the email specifies.

The war in Gaza deeply divides France, which has the largest population of Muslims and Jews in Western Europe. France initially sought to ban pro-Palestinian protests after Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on October 7, which sparked the war. Anti-Semitism has increased.

On Wednesday evening, more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators also occupied an amphitheater at Sciences Po. Most agreed to leave after discussions with management, but a small group of students remained. They were evicted by police later that night, according to French media.

The university administration closed all academic buildings and moved classes online on Friday. She indicated in a press release “strongly condemn these student actions which prevent the proper functioning of the establishment and penalize Sciences Po students, teachers and employees”.

Louise, a protester, said the students' actions were inspired by similar protests at New York's Columbia University and other U.S. campuses.

“But our solidarity remains above all with the Palestinian people,” she declared. She spoke on the condition that only her first name be used, for fear of repercussions.


Students protesting the war between Israel and Hamas have hunkered down at Columbia University, one of many demonstrations rocking campuses from California to Connecticut.

Hundreds of students and even some professors have been arrested across the United States, sometimes amid struggles with police.


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