French President Emmanuel Macron walking to the Oct. 7th massacre tribute. (Twitter Screenshot) (Twitter Screenshot)
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Pro-Hamas students blockaded a lecture hall, dubbed “Gaza,” at Sciences Po, preventing Jewish students from entering.

By Ben Cohen, Algemeiner

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday led a chorus of condemnation of a group of pro-Hamas students who blockaded a lecture hall at one of the country’s most prestigious academic institutions, preventing Jewish students from accessing the space.

On Tuesday, more than one hundred students at the Sciences Po — formally known as the Paris Institute of Political Studies, a public research university — occupied an amphitheater which they renamed “Gaza.” The action was part of a day-long pro-Palestinian mobilization across universities in Europe, resulting in the cancelation of a scheduled class.

Jewish students who attempted to enter the theater reported that they were physically prevented from doing so. One Jewish student was regaled with cries of “she’s a Zionist, don’t let her in.” However, that account was disputed by one of the protest’s organizers, who told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity that while the female student was blocked, on the grounds that she had allegedly “bullied and intimidated” pro-Hamas students, others Jewish students were permitted to enter.

The spectacle drew strong condemnation from leading French politicians. Addressing the Council of Ministers, Macron denounced the protest as “unspeakable and completely intolerable.” A spokesperson for his office added later that while the French president “firmly” believed that “university establishments are autonomous … this autonomy in no way justifies the slightest beginning of separatism.”

Other cabinet ministers echoed the president. “What happened has a name: antisemitism,” Equality Minister Aurora Berge declared in a post on X/Twitter, while Higher Education Minister Sylvie Retailleau asserted that at French universities, “[I]t is intolerable and shocking to suffer the slightest discrimination, the slightest incitement to hatred.” Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Paris region, also voiced her disgust, saying that “the Palestinian cause deserves better than these antisemitic barbs worthy of the worst hours of the history of France.”

The Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF), whose members were confronted at the protest, said separately that “UEJF students are attacked as Jews and Zionists. We call for the immediate lifting of the blockade and exemplary sanctions against these students.”

The management of Sciences Po meanwhile issued an official condemnation of the protest, pledging disciplinary action against “these intolerable acts.”

An open letter published in the news outlet Le Figaro provided a platform to students opposed to the protest to express their anguish at “the painful phrase ‘Don’t let her in, she’s a Zionist.’”

The letter stated: “Nothing in these words deserves its place in our school. No place in our democracy should accept them. These words are proof of absolute bankruptcy. The very meaning of our institution and our commitment as students has been chipped and in this space that has opened since [the Hamas pogrom of] Oct. 7 we do not want to let any monsters pass. These words go against who we are.”

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