French pro-Palestine student protests not just a mirror of US

Pro-Palestinian student protests against the war in Gaza have come to a head in France at Sciences Po – the prestigious international relations school – where students continue to stage demonstrations and the government has become involved, pressuring the university to forcibly shut them down. This comes as protests have erupted on campuses across the United States, but the scale, scope and politics are unique to France.

Debates and demonstrations began at Sciences Po soon after Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October 2023 and Israel started a retaliatory bombing campaign in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian students, calling on Sciences Po to denounce Israel’s offensive, have called out what they maintain is a hypocritical response from the school.

The university held a minute's silence for the Israeli victims of the 7 October attack, and has condemned other conflicts like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

“I'm not comfortable with the silence around the genocide and I'm not comfortable being a part of it... not using my voice to denounce something, especially when my school is not doing anything for it,” Louise, a first-year master’s student in political science, told RFI at a recent pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the Paris campus.

Another demand from the protesters is for Sciences Po to review its partnerships with Israeli institutions, which the university has refused to do, citing a need to keep academic dialogue open.

Read more on RFI English

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