While in the United States pro-Palestinian mobilization has spread to major universities, a nationwide student conflagration cannot be ruled out in France.

After Sciences Po last week, the Sorbonne was blocked by pro-Palestine activists this Monday, April 29. As with Sciences Po, the police intervened. An evacuation requested by the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, which would have lasted only a few minutes, according to the Paris police headquarters, and would have been carried out “peacefully, without incident”.

However, these comments were contradicted by one of the demonstrators echoed by France 24. “We were around fifty people when the police arrived running inside the courtyard,” explained the 20-year-old young man, adding that “the evacuation was quite brutal with around ten people dragged to the ground”, but that “there were no arrests”.

Several tents had been set up in the courtyard of the establishment and around 300 people gathered in the afternoon in front of the Sorbonne. Some students claimed to have responded to the call “from Harvard and Columbia students.”

Supported by the rebels, particularly feared by the executive as the Olympic Games loom, will the student uprising spread like wildfire? Le Monde confirms that other operations are already underway or being prepared behind the scenes. Questioned by the evening daily, a student saw it as “a concrete action which shows that the students are united”. Explaining that the demonstrators are demanding the release of “all hostages” as well as “peace for all”, the one who studies at the Sorbonne adds: “Years ago, the Sorbonne was blocked against the Vietnam War. Today, it’s the same thing.”

This weekend, several student and high school unions called for mobilization starting this Monday. “Let’s rise up against the genocide in Palestine”, indicated the High School Union on X, while Unef invited to “intensify” the mobilization this week. An opinion far from being shared by the head of government, but also certain oppositions. During a trip to Pirou, in Manche, the Prime Minister declared on Saturday that there would be “never a right to blockade, never tolerance with the action of an active and dangerous minority which seeks to impose its rules on our students and teachers.

On Monday, the president of the Île-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, announced on X the suspension of funding from the region to Sciences Po, “until serenity and security are restored” , believing that “a minority of radicalized […] cannot dictate their law to the entire educational community”. Very quickly, however, the left denounced a double standard while the region maintained its funding for the Stanislas school, despite being accused of homophobic remarks.

Friday April 26, during the blockade at Sciences Po, Rima Hassan encouraged the Inter Sciences Po Committee – which brings together all the Institutes of Political Studies in France and all the universities in France – to mobilize. At the same time, the Reims campus was also blocked. Furthermore, the Student Union was quick to call, the next day, Saturday, “at Sciences Po, as everywhere in France, to rise up against repression and for peace in Gaza.”

In the political sphere, the deputies of La France insoumise echoed the Student Union. LFI will “support” new blockages for the head of LFI deputies Mathilde Panot. The coordinator of the Insoumis, Manuel Bompard, hoped this Monday morning on Public Senate that the mobilizations for Gaza “grow in scale in the universities”. The message is therefore unanimous, to encourage blockades to show support for Gaza.

Candidate for the European elections on the list of La France insoumise, Rima Hassan for her part said she accepted the term “uprising”, Monday morning on franceinfo, regarding the blockade of the Sciences Po Paris campus. “I am referring to the definition of Larousse. It is ‘a collective and massive movement’. I invite students to mobilize,” she clarified.

Three days earlier, on X (formerly Twitter), the Franco-Palestinian activist had invited the French to join the Sciences Po students who were blocking the campus in support of the Palestinians. “I am calling for mobilization, not only in universities, throughout France,” she continued, Monday morning, on the public service channel.

For the Minister of Higher Education Sylvie Retailleau, Sciences Po wants to “set up a debate” after “the distressing spectacle” of last Friday. Perhaps she is referring to the University’s desire to organize a “townhall”. In other words, a debate in which all questions can be asked. This expression imported from the United States also means that discussions concerning the students’ demands can be held. In fact, a meeting was planned for Monday, April 29 to try to outline the contours of a constructive and peaceful discussion.

“We will try to recreate with controversy, a real academic debate,” declared the minister. “The debate yes. The blocking, no, and especially the escalation, no,” she blurted out. A declaration that follows in the footsteps of the government’s latest communication on the subject of last Friday’s excesses, assuring that “red lines had been crossed”. Proof that the discussions could prove to be more delicate than expected, dissensions are being felt within the majority itself. “I am extremely embarrassed by what appears to be a capitulation, a submission to a minority of students who prevent others from learning,” the spokesperson for the Renaissance group admitted to the National Assembly on Friday evening. and deputy for Macronie, Maud Brégeon. If a university conflagration at the national level cannot be ruled out, the political class appears more divided than ever, and the subject also seems to pose a problem in the ranks of the majority.

As a reminder, on the night of Thursday April 25 to Friday April 26, students took over Sciences Po Paris to protest against the bombings in Gaza. The day before, a first blockade of the establishment had ended after an intervention by the police at the request of management. Resupplied using shopping bags hoisted at arm’s length, the students intended to stay on site until they won their case. If a delegation of mobilized students had been received by the school management, they did not intend to lift the fence until the latter had responded on several points. Among them, the abandonment of possible sanctions against all students involved in the mobilization.

The movement, copied from that currently taking place within American universities such as New York, Yale or Columbia, took a new turn in the middle of the afternoon on Friday. Around fifty pro-Israel demonstrators had in fact gathered, some masked, in front of the premises of the prestigious Parisian school, chanting several demands, including “Liberate Sciences Po” or “Liberate Gaza from Hamas”. An arrival frowned upon by the pro-Palestinian students already present there, leading to a stampede between supporters of each camp.