Columbia varsity faces complaint after arresting protesters

Published April 27, 2024
[4/5] Independent student workers supporting Palestinians hold a march at the main campus as protests continue at Columbia University, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2024.—Reuters
[4/5] Independent student workers supporting Palestinians hold a march at the main campus as protests continue at Columbia University, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2024.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: A pro-Palestinian US group filed a federal civil rights complaint against Columbia University following last week’s mass arrest of anti-war protesters after the school called police to clear demonstrator encampments, the group said on Thursday.

Palestine Legal, an organisation that seeks to protect the rights of people in the US to speak out on behalf of Palestinians, urged the Education Department to probe the school’s actions, which it alleges were discriminatory against those who are pro-Palestinian.

Columbia University declined to comment.

Last week, the university tried to shut down campus demonstrations by force when Columbia President Minouche Shafik took the unusual move of inviting New York City police to enter the campus, drawing the ire of many human rights groups, students and faculty. More than 100 people were arrested, reminiscent of the demonstrations against the Vietnam war at Columbia more than 50 years ago.

Protests have since continued at Columbia and spread to other US campuses where hundreds have been arrested in the last week.

The Gaza crisis has caused intense discourse across the United States, Israel’s most important ally.

Advocacy groups note a rise in hate and bias against Jews, Arabs and Palestinians.

Alarming US incidents include the fatal October stabbing of a six-year-old Palestinian American in Illinois, the November shooting of three students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and the February stabbing of a Palestinian American man in Texas.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said on Thursday he was following reports of allegations of antisemitism on college campuses. Earlier this month, a former Cornell University student pleaded guilty to posting online threats, including of death and violence, against Jewish students on campus.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2024

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