US Campus Protests Spread to Europe

06:23 May 7, 2024

US Campus Protests Spread to Europe

The pro-Palestinian protests at colleges across the United States have spread to campuses in Europe.

On Tuesday, German police broke up a protest by several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters at Berlin’s Free University (FU). The protesters had put up about 20 tents and formed a human chain around the tents. Most of the protesters wore the familiar Palestinian head covering called a kufiyah.

The school’s administrators said in a statement that the protesters had rejected any dialogue. They said some of the protesters tried to occupy classrooms and buildings. Administrators called in the police to clear the campus.

“This form of protest is not geared towards dialogue. An occupation is not acceptable on the FU Berlin campus,” said university president Guenter Ziegler.

Police used a chemical spray against the protesters and carried some of them away after clashes broke out.

In the Netherlands

At the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Dutch police arrested about 125 activists as they broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration camp.

Amsterdam police said on the social media service X that their action was “necessary to restore order” after protests turned violent. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Video aired by the Dutch national broadcaster NOS shows police using equipment to knock down barriers. Video also showed officers carrying sticks and beating some protesters.

The University of Amsterdam said in a statement that police ended the demonstration “due to public order and safety concerns.”

“The war between Israel and Hamas is having a major impact on individual students and staff,” the statement said. “We share the anger and bewilderment over the war, and we understand that there are protests over it. We stress that within the university, dialogue about it is the only answer.”

The rest of Europe

Students have also held protests or set up encampments in Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

The protesters say they are against Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, which started in late October 2023. Israel started the war in reaction to a terrorist attack by Hamas that killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7.

The war has destroyed much of the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Gaza’s health ministry, which is run by Hamas, says about 35,000 Palestinians have been killed.

In Finland, protesters from the Students for Palestine group set up an encampment outside the main building at the University of Helsinki. The group members said they would stay there until the university cuts ties with Israeli schools.

In Denmark, students set up a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Copenhagen. The university said students can protest but called on them to respect the rules on campus grounds. On their Facebook page, members of the activist group Students Against the Occupation said attempts to talk to the administration over the past two years about ending investment and ties in Israel have not gone anywhere.

In Italy, students at the University of Bologna set up a tent encampment over the weekend to demand an end to the war in Gaza. Students organized similar protests in Rome and Naples, which were largely peaceful.

In Spain, students have spent over a week at a pro-Palestinian encampment on the University of Valencia campus. Students set up similar camps on Monday at the University of Barcelona and the University of the Basque Country.

In Paris, French police peacefully removed several students last week from the Paris Institute of Political Studies after they had gathered in support of Palestinians. Protests also took place last week at other universities in France, including in Lille and Lyon.

Meanwhile, protests continue at colleges across the United States. Several universities have had to cancel their main commencement ceremonies. And students at the University of Michigan and Indiana University interrupted commencement ceremonies over the weekend.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

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