Columbia University: Ilhan Omar's daughter suspended, 108 arrested for Gaza protest

  • By Bernd Debussmann Jr
  • BBC News

video title, WATCH: NY Police Arrest Dozens at American College Gaza Protest

More than 100 students have been arrested after police cleared an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University in New York.

The president of the university said the “extraordinary action” came after several warnings and it was necessary to provide a safe environment.

Among those who attended the protest was the daughter of Minnesota politician Ilhan Omar, who was suspended.

Protests have rocked American campuses since the Israel-Gaza war began last year.

Demonstrators pitched about 50 tents on campus on Wednesday — and hundreds of students and others rallied with them overnight.

More than 100 people occupied the lawns for more than 30 hours in violation of university rules, New York Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Thursday.

Independent presidential candidate Cornel West joined the demonstrators.

In a statement to faculty earlier Thursday, Columbia University President Dr. Nemat Shafik said he believed his decision to authorize the New York Police Department to remove the encampment was “never necessary.”

“The people who set up the camp violated a long list of rules and principles,” Dr Shafiq said. “Through face-to-face conversations and in writing, the university provided multiple notifications of these violations.”

“All these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the concerned students,” Dr Shafiq said regretfully.

In total, 108 people were arrested at the scene of the protest, most of them issued summonses for trespassing. After the site was cleared, protests continued throughout the day and into the night, according to local reports.

The Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, indicated that the authorities' sweep marked the first mass arrests on campus since Vietnam War protests in 1968.

image source, Good pictures

image caption, Ilhan Omar's daughter Isra Hirsi, 21, said she was suspended from Barnard College.

On X, earlier on Twitter, Ilhan Omar's daughter, Isra Hirsi, 21, said she had been suspended from Barnard College for “standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing genocide.”

Ms. Hirsi said she was never reprimanded or reprimanded in the three years she was a student at the private women's college next to and affiliated with Columbia.

Her mother is one of the fiercest critics of Israel on Capitol Hill. In 2019, the congresswoman apologized after tweeting that US support for Israel was “about Benjamin's baby”, a slang term for $100 bills, which drew accusations of anti-Semitism.

Columbia University Apartheid Dissociation, one of the organizations behind the protest, said the suspension of Ms. Hirsi and two other students, identified as Maryam Iqbal and Sob Dinu, “deprived them of access to their food, housing and medical facilities.” “.

“Two of the three live in student housing and were illegally locked out without notice,” the statement added, adding that the suspension was effective immediately.

Barnard College told the BBC it “does not provide information about confidential student conduct activities”.

image caption, Police stand guard next to a truck with confiscated camping equipment

'subject to restrictions'

A separate Barnard community update sent out Thursday said staff asked students to leave and warned they would be “subject to sanctions” if they failed to do so.

Written warnings were also issued on Wednesday evening, warning them of interim suspension if they did not leave the camp the same night.

“This morning … we began camping the identified Barnard students on interim suspension, and we will continue to do so,” the statement added.

Barnard's Student Government Association said in a statement that the suspensions were “illegal” and violated “the sanctity of the academic institution and its mission to facilitate open dialogue.”

At least one professor – classics lecturer Joseph Hawley – publicly supported the protest.

He told the Observer: “I wish I had been more optimistic over the last few months, and today it's more about how students protest than what the university's response is.”

The protest in Columbia came days after pro-Palestinian protesters blocked major roads across the country, blocking access to airports including Chicago's O'Hare International and Seattle-Tacoma International, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. York.

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