Pro-Palestinian campus protests emerge in France, Australia and Mexico

Welcome back to World Brief, what we’re watching pro-Palestinian campus protests around the world, US And Russian troops share one Nigeria air base and emergency measures against flooding Kenya.

A global student movement

Pro-Palestinian student protests like those seen in the United States in recent weeks have begun to pop up at universities around the world, including in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico and the United Kingdom. In response to this, pro-Israel counter-demonstrations have also arisen in various places. Unlike the United States, where more than 2,300 protesters have been arrested or detained on at least 49 campuses since April 18, international protests have largely seen minimal police interference.

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Sydney in Australia on Friday to urge the school to cut academic ties with Israeli universities and get rid of weapons manufacturers, a similar demand made by many American protesters. Vice Chancellor Mark Scott told local media on Thursday that the university’s encampment, which was set up last week, was able to remain on campus in part because it has not experienced the kind of violence seen abroad and because “strongly held views and intense debates” “part of who we are.” “Our instinct is never to preemptively shut down freedom of expression, debate and the right to protest,” he said.

(A report released Thursday by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nongovernmental organization specializing in crisis mapping, found that despite “some notable violent clashes” — such as the one at the University of California, Los Angeles, where pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators fought – 99 percent of US protests remained peaceful.)

Across the Pacific, dozens of pro-Palestinian students camped out at Mexico’s largest university on Thursday to call on the Mexican government to cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel. If Mexico City were to do so, it would become the fourth Latin American nation to cut diplomatic ties with Israel since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October 2023. In Canada, Quebec Premier François Legault gave students from McGill University on Thursday to dismantle their country. encampment after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “Jewish students do not feel safe” because of the protests. Demonstrations have also been reported at schools in Beirut, London, Rome and Tokyo.

Law enforcement has played an active role in suppressing pro-Palestinian protests in France. Police entered Sciences Po University in Paris on Friday to remove students who had occupied campus buildings overnight; Reports indicate that the French protests have remained peaceful, with eyewitnesses reporting that they saw no signs of violence as police removed the students from the Sciences Po buildings. The university closed its main building on Friday and school director Jean Bassères rejected demands to review Sciences Po’s relationship with Israeli universities. French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s office said Thursday that student protesters had been “evacuated” from 23 higher education institutions across the country.

Meanwhile, American lawmakers are trying to reduce campus unrest through legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act on a 320-91 vote Wednesday as part of a bipartisan effort to address antisemitism on college campuses. This would be the first definition of anti-Semitism codified in U.S. federal law, and it could allow the Department of Education to withhold federal funds from schools that fail to limit anti-Semitic speech.

But opposition from both sides of the aisle makes the bill’s passage in the Senate uncertain. Some Republicans have argued that the bill would ban parts of the Bible by criminalizing the claim that “Jews killed Jesus.” The Anti-Defamation League views this belief — which is held by some Christians, including some Republican lawmakers — as an anti-Semitic trope that has been used for centuries to justify collective violence against Jews.

Democrats and First Amendment advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union also condemned the bill, arguing it could restrict political speech.

Today’s most read

What we follow

Close quarters. Both Russian and American troops are currently stationed at the same military air base in the West African country of Niger. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed late on Thursday that Russian military personnel had been deployed to Air Base 101 in central Niger, despite US troops also being stationed there. “The Russians are in a separate compound and have no access to American troops or our equipment,” Austin said. It is unclear when the Russian staff arrived and how many are at Air Base 101.

The troublesome arrangement is the result of a recent decision by the Nigerien junta, which came to power in a military coup last July, to ask the United States to withdraw its roughly 1,000 troops from the country over disagreements over the future of the country. country. Junta members initially proposed a three-year term for the transition to civilian rule, but Washington has argued that is too long. In the meantime, Niger has instead turned to Russia to help fight Islamist insurgencies as Moscow takes on a more prominent security role in the Sahel.

In addition to tensions in Africa, the US State Department accused Russia on Wednesday of deploying chemical weapons in Ukraine, specifically the asphyxiant chloropicrin and tear gas. “The use of such chemicals is not isolated and is likely driven by the desire of Russian forces to drive Ukrainian forces from fortified positions and make tactical gains on the battlefield,” the ministry said in a statement. US officials argued that this violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Russia is a signatory to. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Heavy rain. Kenya on Friday launched emergency measures to combat “unprecedented” deadly flooding across the country. These include evacuation orders for anyone living near the Nairobi River or 178 specified dams and reservoirs, the establishment of new temporary shelters and the provision of additional resources to flood victims to purchase food and medicine. Nairobi also suspended school openings as he warned the country could experience its first cyclone in the coming days.

Since the heavy rains began in March, more than 200 people have been killed and more than 160,000 others have been displaced. This crisis “is a direct consequence of our failure to protect our environment, resulting in the painful consequences of climate change that we are witnessing today,” President William Ruto said on Friday.

Voting in Panama. Panamanians will elect a new president on Sunday. Opinion polls currently have former Security Minister José Raúl Mulino as the frontrunner, despite being the last candidate to participate in the vote. In March, he replaced former President Ricardo Martinelli after the ex-leader was given a 10-year prison sentence last July for money laundering, barring him from running again. Panama’s Supreme Court on Friday approved Mulino’s bid for the presidency.

Lawyer Rómulo Roux and former president Martín Torrijos are competing for second place. Roux has promised to boost tourism and create 500,000 jobs. He previously oversaw the Panama Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world. Torrijos, a son of former dictator Omar Torrijos, is also focusing his campaign on expanding the Panama Canal, creating new jobs and financing infrastructure projects.

What in the world?

On Tuesday, a Chinese spacecraft carrying three astronauts returned to Earth after completing a mission aboard the country’s orbiting space station. How long did the mission last?

A. Two months
B. Six months
C. One year
D. Two years

Odds and Ends

Do you hear! Do you hear! Hello everyone, the new King of France! The new king of the crispy baguette. Authorities crowned Parisian baker Xavier Netry last week, giving him $4,290 and making him supplier to the Élysée Palace for a year. His bread beat 172 others after it was judged on taste, appearance, texture, fluffiness and baking quality. The secret to success, Netry said, is a good sourdough starter, long fermentation, careful cooking and “of course some love and some passion.”

And the answer is…

B. Six months

China still has a long way to go if it wants to achieve its ambitions of becoming a scientific superpower, argue Tanner Greer and Nancy Yu.

To take the rest of FP’s weekly international news quiz, click here, or sign up to be alerted when a new one is published.