Pro-Palestinian demonstrations | Columbia University threatens to expel students

(New York) The management of Columbia University in New York, the epicenter of a pro-Palestinian movement against the war in Gaza on American campuses, threatened Tuesday to dismiss those who have occupied and “vandalized” a building since last night. the establishment.

This student anger has been spreading for two weeks across the United States, from California to major universities in the northeast, through the south and the center – reminiscent of the demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a group of students claimed to have raised a Palestinian flag in the center of the campus, before the police replaced, according to the press, the American flag.


The Columbia University Apartheid Divest group renamed the building, Hamilton Hall, to “Hind’s Hall” in honor of a six-year-old girl killed during the Gaza war.

This movement sparked reactions from the White House to the United Nations.

Joe Biden, president of Israel’s “unwavering” ally, criticized these rekindled tensions at Columbia, a private university in Manhattan which trains the country’s elite: “Occupying a university building by force is the wrong approach” and does not represent “not an example of a peaceful demonstration,” thundered John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

At the UN in New York, its Secretary General Antonio Guterres considered it “essential in all circumstances to guarantee freedoms of expression and peaceful demonstration” while insisting that “racist speeches were obviously unacceptable”.

“Absolute chaos”

Six months before the presidential election, the Republican opposition led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, once again denounced “absolute illegality and chaos on campuses in America” as well as “anti-Semitism and ‘failure to protect Jewish students’.

He called for the departure of the president of Columbia, Minouche Shafik.


Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University

The latter began Monday evening to administratively “suspend” students who refused to leave their tent “village” on campus, after the failure of negotiations.

Protesters then barricaded themselves overnight in a building, Hamilton Hall, which others protected using a human chain, sanitary masks on their faces and keffiyehs on their heads.

Denouncing an “escalation,” Columbia spokesperson Ben Chang then threatened to “fire” them from the university by accusing them of “vandalizing, breaking and blocking access” to Hamilton Hall. It was renamed by the pro-Palestinian group “Columbia University Apartheid Divest” to “Hind’s Hall”, in tribute to a six-year-old girl killed in Gaza.

“We will not leave,” the protesters proclaimed on Instagram, while Tina Deng, an economics and maths student, confided that they were “trying to set up a barricade”.


Professors rally in support of Columbia University students who continue to maintain an on-campus protest encampment in support of the Palestinians, despite a 2 p.m. deadline set by university officials.

Cut with Israel

Access to the immense green and airy campus, usually open to passers-by, is strictly controlled.

Pro-Palestinian protesters demand that Columbia cut ties with patrons and businesses linked to Israel. Management refuses, but promised Friday that it would no longer send the New York police to evacuate the premises.


Because images of police in riot gear brutally intervening on campuses have gone around the world.

Since last weekend, hundreds of students, teachers and activists from 19 universities have been questioned, some arrested and prosecuted.

At the University of Texas at Austin (south), police intervened bluntly on Monday, with the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, warning that “no encampment would be allowed.”


Nearly 80 people were taken into custody and will be prosecuted for “trespassing”, according to the local sheriff’s office.

In California, the police “evacuated and secured” two buildings at Cal Poly Humboldt University on Tuesday at dawn and arrested 35 people, in order to “restore order” according to this establishment.

These new pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the United States have reignited the electric debate since October between freedom of expression and accusations of anti-Semitism.

This winter, the university presidents of Harvard and UPenn were forced to resign after being accused in Congress of not doing enough against anti-Semitism.

The United States has the largest number of Jews in the world after Israel, and millions of Arab-Muslim Americans.

The war in the Gaza Strip was triggered by the unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 on Israeli soil which led to the massacre of 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official data. Israelis. In retaliation, Israel promised to destroy the Palestinian Islamist movement and its vast military operation in Gaza left 34,535 people dead, mostly civilians, according to Hamas.


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