French police storm Sciences Po building occupied by anti-Israel student protesters

Students at the prestigious Parisian university were evacuated from the building where they staged a sit-in to protest Israel’s war in Gaza


Protesters are escorted away by French riot police during the evacuation of an anti-Israel sit-in in the entrance hall of the Sciences Po university in Paris on 3 May, 2024. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Riot police in Paris entered the campus of the prestigious Sciences Po university on Friday to remove student protesters who had begun occupying university buildings as part of an anti-Israel demonstration.

According to Reuters, this morning French police stormed the university’s main building on 27 Rue Saint Guillame in the 7th arrondissement and brought out many of the roughly 70 protesters staging a pro-Palestine demonstration in the lobby.

Footage posted to Instagram by the group Comité Palestine Sciences Po shows students inside the building chanting ‘Free Palestine’ as well as holding Palestinian flags and signs reading ‘Free Palestine.’

Unlike the violence which has characterised recent anti-Israel student protests in the US, the demonstrations at universities in France have been predominantly peaceful, and there were reportedly no signs of violence as protesters at Sciences Po were removed from the building.

Among Comité Palestine Sciences Po’s list of demands for university administration is the “cessation of any partnerships or collaborations with institutions or entities that uphold Zionist ideologies,” as well as an “official condemnation of Israeli actions,” according to a post shared on the group’s Instagram account.

But on Thursday, the interim administrator of Sciences Po, Jean Bassères, rejected the group’s demand that the school review its relationship with Israeli universities. During a town hall event that followed student protests at the university last week, Bassères admitted that the school needs to consider whether to “take positions on major political issues” but said a review of broader school policy was not on the agenda.

He added that he was aware his refusal of students’ demands over the university’s relations with Israel could anger some protesters and called on them to “show a sense of responsibility,” urging protesters not to disrupt the exams scheduled to begin next week.

Sciences Po, whose graduates include President Emmanuel Macron, announced that it would be closed on Friday 3 May due to the demonstration on campus.

The staged sit-in at Sciences Po follows a flurry of similar anti-Israel demonstrations on college campuses across the US, Europe and Australia as students continue to pressure their school administrations to take action against Israel’s war in Gaza.

Sciences Po has been contacted for comments.

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