Middle East: Pro-Palestinian activists occupy the courtyard of the FU Berlin

Middle East: Pro-Palestinian activists occupy the courtyard of the FU Berlin

The conflict in the Middle East has also reached German universities. Activists occupied a courtyard at the Free University of Berlin for a few hours.

Around 150 pro-Palestinian activists temporarily occupied a courtyard at the Free University in Berlin. The university temporarily stopped teaching and the police cleared the area in the afternoon. “This form of protest is not aimed at dialogue. An occupation is not acceptable on the grounds of the FU Berlin,” said university president Günter Ziegler in a statement. “We are available for scientific dialogue – but not in this way.”

The Central Council of Jews clearly criticized the management of the university. In Leipzig, the police also cleared a university lecture hall after an occupation.

The occupiers of the theater courtyard called for solidarity with the people of Gaza. For this purpose, they also set up tents on the university grounds in the Dahlem district. “We are occupying the Free University of Berlin,” it said in a speech, saying this was done in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The actions of the Israeli army in Gaza were criticized. The group, acting as the “Student Coalition Berlin,” called for the occupation of German universities and student resistance in solidarity with Gaza.

Slogans like “Viva, viva, Palestine!” were heard. Posters called for a strike as a form of resistance. Flags with the Palestinian colors could be seen. Police spokesman Michael Gassen said that forbidden slogans were also shouted. This is documented by the police, the people are identified and procedures are initiated. According to the police, investigations were initiated, including for trespassing, resistance and suspicion of sedition, as well as proceedings for taking part in an unreported meeting.

According to the university, activists had also attempted to occupy rooms and lecture halls at the university. The group invited other students and professors to participate. There was damage to property. The university has filed criminal charges. Teaching operations in the Rust, Silver and Holzlaube buildings have been discontinued. The libraries in these buildings and the cafeteria were closed. The university had previously announced rapid action. “The FU ordered the evacuation and called the police,” said a spokeswoman.

Central Council of Jews criticizes university after occupation

The Central Council of Jews in Germany criticized the occupation as “clearly showing the fanatical character of the groups involved,” Central Council President Josef Schuster said in a statement on Tuesday. “The hatred of Israel and the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic background of the action is obvious and is part of the DNA of these people,” said Schuster. “The fact that the university management once again doesn’t use a word about this ideological underpinning in a statement is more than irritating to me. Ross and Reiter must be clearly named.” He expected a clear positioning. “Unfortunately, the events of the past few weeks and months do not seem to have brought about sufficient development in the FU management.”

Berlin’s governing mayor Kai Wegner condemned the occupation. “We must not turn a blind eye at universities when anti-Semitic slogans and hatred of Jews are spread at universities,” said the CDU politician. “As the Berlin Senate, we will do everything we can to ensure that Jewish students are not afraid to enter universities.”

Science Senator Ina Czyborra (SPD) told the German Press Agency: “In principle, it is legitimate to demonstrate against war, but not in the form of protest actions like three days ago at the HU and today at the FU, which are based on confrontation and not on Dialogue-oriented.” She emphasized: “Berlin’s universities are safe. The universities are clearly positioning themselves against anti-Semitism and are also taking action against it.”

Police clear camp

The area was initially cordoned off and monitored by the police; other activists were not allowed through. In the early afternoon, individual groups of demonstrators were escorted from the site. Eventually the camp itself was evacuated. After repeated requests to leave the area, the emergency services began to remove individual participants. On the sidelines, there were individual scuffles between police forces and people from neighboring university buildings.

There are also protests at other universities

In Leipzig, the police were also on duty due to an occupation on the university grounds. A police spokesman told the German Press Agency that 13 suspects have currently been identified. Before the evacuation, the supporters who had blocked the doors of the Audimax were asked to release the entrances to the lecture hall. However, some had to be carried away, it was said.

On Friday, activists protested at Berlin’s Humboldt University. Around 150 people came together for an unregistered rally. The protesters demanded a lecture hall as a rally location, which the university management did not grant. As a result, the police initiated 37 investigations into possible cases of sedition and resistance to law enforcement officers.

In the USA, there have been protests at numerous universities for more than two weeks against Israel’s actions in the Gaza war and for solidarity with the Palestinians. The background is the unprecedented massacre with more than 1,200 deaths that terrorists from Hamas and other groups carried out in Israel on October 7th. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive. Given the high number of civilian casualties and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Israel has come under international criticism.

Source: Stern

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