In Europe, Police Arrest Protesters and Clear Encampments at Universities

In countries across Europe, students have staged their own pro-Palestinian sit-ins and protests on the lawns of their universities. And in several instances, the authorities are taking a similar approach to their U.S. counterparts: shutting them down.

At the University of Amsterdam on Tuesday, the police arrested about 125 students who had fortified their protest camp with wooden barricades. And in Berlin, the German police cleared a similar encampment at the city’s Free University, which included several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters. Both demonstrations had begun on Monday, days after mass arrests swept through protests at U.S. campuses.

In Amsterdam, university officials said the demonstration had begun peacefully, but devolved into “an unsafe and grim situation” overnight, when fireworks were launched, physical attacks took place and an Israeli flag was burned. The city’s public prosecutor and mayor made the decision to deploy the police, university executives said in a statement. “We deeply regret that it had to turn out this way,” they said.

Many demands coming out of European universities reflect common cause with protesting students in the United States. Among them: for universities to disclose their investment streams and divest from those that support Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Tent cities, similar to those in America, have appeared in Britain at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, where protesters have declared “liberated zones” on campus; demonstrations have also been held in Bristol, Leeds and Manchester. At France’s Sciences Po, one of the country’s most elite universities, students occupied a campus building last week and refused to leave. Dozens of them were removed by the police on Friday.

In Ireland, at Trinity College, Dublin, a student encampment prompted the university to close its popular exhibition on the Book of Kells, the medieval illuminated gospel manuscript that is one of the most famous works of its kind, on the eve of a busy tourist season. After talks with student protesters this week, Trinity officials said they would begin the process of divesting from certain companies that operate in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

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