At Sciences Po, immersed in the heart of tensions around the Palestinian question

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Demonstrators in front of Sciences Po Paris as students occupy one of the buildings, with a barricade blocking the entrance, in support of the Palestinians, April 26, 2024. DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP

On the night of Thursday May 2 to Friday May 3, Hicham (the people mentioned by their first names do not wish to give their names) leans out of one of the windows on the first floor of Sciences Po, at 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, in Paris. Below, a group sticks posters between the tall black gates, which read: “Anti-Semitism does not help the Palestinian cause.” “Do you condemn Hamas? », says Samuel Lejoyeux, president of the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) association, from the sidewalk. From up there, the young man from the Palestine committee approves. Then returns: “Do you condemn Israeli bombings in Gaza? » The dialogue is short.

Around a hundred students spend the night in the school to draw attention to what they call a “genocide” in Gaza, with the intervention of the Israeli army in response to the Hamas attack, on October 7, 2023. Among them, Hicham, Aïcha, Zineb, James, Louise (these last three first names have been modified) call themselves atheists , Muslims, Jews, “racialized” or not, without a leader. During the day, they wear masks, fearing being targeted in the media like “Hamas “Islamo-leftists””, reports Aïcha, 22, a law school student. These young people born between 2002 and 2005, their eyes fixed on the “stories” of Gaza on social networks, snapshots of war that haunt them, have tears in their eyes: “We can’t stay like this. »

“Last warning, please leave the premises” : the next day, the CRS entered the Péniche, the historic hall of Sciences Po, where around fifty students remained in sit-in, poster in hand “The children of Gaza thank us”. “I saw your posters, I walk on them”, says a police officer, pushing a student towards the exit. In the street, other students are scattered along Boulevard Saint-Germain. “We have just been kicked out by the police, even though we were not blocking entry or academic life, reacts James, black and white keffiyeh on his head, in second year. We understand that Bassères [l’administrateur provisoire de l’école] is not from Sciences Po, he is from the government! »

>A protester is escorted during the evacuation of a sit-in in the entrance hall of Sciences Po Paris, May 3, 2024.>

A protester is escorted during the evacuation of a sit-in in the entrance hall of Sciences Po Paris, May 3, 2024.

A protester is escorted during the evacuation of a sit-in in the entrance hall of Sciences Po Paris, May 3, 2024. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

This is the prestigious school on rue Saint-Guillaume, a place bustling with militant commitments, the production of social sciences and the training of some of the elites, which for sixty days has become a political theater where blockades and outbreaks of violence can be seen. emotions. Inside, where The world went, among the clusters of students passionate about their cause, or to the floor of the mythical director’s office, this little world nevertheless strives to debate, in a mixture of misunderstandings of language, of crossed accusations of anti-Semitism and Zionism, of disagreements on the role of the university in the face of the upheavals of the world.

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