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2,000 Arrested in US College Protests; Biden Urges Order

photo : AP / Evan Vucci

Student protests have erupted on numerous college and university campuses across the United States over the past two weeks. These demonstrations have not only drawn attention to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict but have also highlighted broader issues of free speech, campus safety, and academic freedom.

Reports indicate that at least 2,000 individuals have been arrested in connection with these protests, which have occurred on 35 different campuses nationwide. The demonstrations gained momentum after a tent encampment was established at Columbia University on April 17, evolving into a significant movement.

One notable incident occurred when a police officer discharged his firearm inside a Columbia University building while attempting to clear protesters. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. The tension escalated when demonstrators seized Hamilton Hall on April 30, intensifying their presence on the campus.

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Amidst these developments, the University of Minnesota reached an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters to end their encampment on the Minneapolis campus. As part of the deal, representatives of the student coalition involved in the protests will have the opportunity to address the university's Board of Regents.

President Joe Biden weighed in on the situation, reaffirming the importance of maintaining order while respecting dissent. He emphasized that while dissent is crucial for democracy, it must not lead to disorder. Biden also expressed his reluctance to deploy the National Guard to campuses.

Columbia University faced criticism for hiring a Modern Arab Studies professor who expressed support for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The professor, Mohamed Abdou, was terminated following public outcry over his statements.

Meanwhile, similar protests have emerged in Canada, with students erecting pro-Palestinian encampments at universities such as the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Ottawa. These demonstrations have sparked counter-protests, including a pro-Israel rally in Montreal.

Overall, the protests underscore the complexities surrounding freedom of expression, academic discourse, and international conflicts on college campuses in North America.

May 3, 2024 11:45 a.m. 5541

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