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French police remove pro-Palestinian students from the courtyard of Sorbonne university in Paris

Dozens of Sorbonne university students were removed from campus grounds by French police after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the elite institution's main courtyard.

French police removed dozens of students from the Sorbonne university after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard of the elite institution in Paris on Monday.

About 50 protesters set up tents at midday Monday at the Sorbonne university courtyard in support of Palestinians, echoing similar encampments and solidarity demonstrations across the United States.


Protesters unveiled a giant Palestinian flag and chanted slogans in support of Palestinians in Gaza, as Israel continues its offensive following the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the Israeli-Hamas war. Police entered the university grounds in the early afternoon and removed them.

About 100 demonstrators took part in the protest near the prestigious university amid heavy police presence that were also guarding the university entrance to prevent students from setting up camp inside again.

Lorelia Frejo, a graduate student at the Sorbonne who joined a protest outside the university, said police used force to remove her peers from the courtyard. "They were peaceful and police took them out with no explanation," Frejo said. Students in Paris were inspired by the protests at New York's Columbia University who remain steadfast despite police pressure, she added.

"They (Columbia protesters) are very strong and want to fight for justice and for peace in Palestine," Frejo said.

The Sorbonne occupies a unique place at the heart of French public and intellectual life. Last week, President Emmanuel Macron chose it as the venue to deliver a speech on his vision of Europe ahead of elections for the European Parliament in June.

Last week protests broke out at another elite university in the French capital region, the Paris Institute of Political Studies, known as Sciences Po, which counts Macron and Prime Minister Gabriel Attal among its many famous alumni.

Tensions had broken out on campus as pro-Palestinian students inspired by Gaza solidarity encampments at campuses in the United States sought to occupy an amphitheater.

On Friday, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators faced each other in a tense standoff in the street outside the school. Riot police stepped in to separate the opposing groups.

The protest ended peacefully, when students agreed to evacuate the building late on Friday. The head of Sciences Po said an agreement with students had been reached.

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