With bright tents and sombre mood, protesting UK students show solidarity with US peers

With bright tents and sombre mood, protesting UK students show solidarity with US peers
With bright tents and sombre mood, protesting UK students show solidarity with US peers

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A local activist reads near tents at Oxford University, outside Oxford University Museum of Natural History, as students occupy parts of British university campuses to protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Oxford, Britain, May 6, 2024. — Reuters pic

OXFORD, May 7 — British students set up pro-Palestinian protest encampments on Oxford and Cambridge universities’ historic campuses on a cloudy spring Monday, in a show of solidarity with their American peers.

By early morning, students had erected dozens of brightly coloured tents on the lawns outside the relatively dull, yellow, 19th-century neo-Gothic Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Standing in front of the camps, some of which bore the black, white and green Palestinian flag, the students said they were joining 100 universities across the world to protest Israel’s war in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,700 Palestinians so far.

The footage of protests in Britain was in stark contrast to the jarring scenes from the US over the past couple of weeks, where riot police wielding batons and flash-bang grenades dispersed and arrested hundreds of protesters.

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There was no visible police presence at the Oxford protest, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.

The Columbia University protests in New York, which drew national attention, have inspired similar demonstrations at dozens of universities around the US and elsewhere, with students calling for a ceasefire and demanding their schools divest from companies with ties to Israel.

“In terms of why we’re doing this style of protest now is that solidarity is so important in every movement,” 19-year old Rosy Wilson, a student at the University of Oxford, said in an interview.

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By replicating the student protests in America, “we are showing a united force where we are united with them, we are united with Gaza and we are united with this movement all over the world,” she added.

An Oxford University spokesperson said the university, whose many alumni include the likes of Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Boris Johnson and authors Oscar Wilde and J.R.R Tolkien, was aware of the demonstration.

“We respect our students’ and staff members’ right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests,” the spokesperson said. “We ask everyone who is taking part to do so with respect, courtesy and empathy... There is no place for intolerance at the University of Oxford.” — Reuters

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