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Germany Still Silent On Gov't Probe Of Academics Backing Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters

15.06.2024 11:57

No further comment from Chancellor's office, says deputy government spokesperson.

The German government has declined to address reports that its Education and Research Ministry was targeting academics who voiced support for pro-Palestinian student protesters.

The issue came to light in a report by public radio and television broadcaster NDR that detailed funding cuts for professors, reportedly due to their endorsement of a May 7 open letter, protesting the authorities' response to pro-Palestinian student protesters at the Free University of Berlin.

The letter accused the university administration of subjecting demonstrators, who demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, to "police violence."

Government spokesperson Wolfgang Buchner declined to comment further on the reports at a press conference in Berlin, where he was also pressed on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's stance on the issue and the alleged encroachment on academic independence.

"The Education and Research Ministry has issued a statement on this matter. There is no further comment from the Chancellor's office," he said.

Responding to concerns over the future of academia and freedom of expression in Germany, Buchner said: "As you know, we do not comment on statements and public letters."

He acknowledged, however, that there has been intense criticism of the Education and Research Ministry, including demands for the minister to resign.

German universities, including in Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Bremen, have been the scene of massive student protests against Israel's deadly military offensive in Gaza over the past eight months.

Demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians have also spread across university campuses in the US and Europe.

The ongoing Gaza war was triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion that caused the death of nearly 1,200 people and seized some 250 people as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's war on the Palestinian enclave, in comparison, has killed over 37,200 Palestinians, the Gaza Health Ministry has said, and reduced most of the narrow, coastal enclave to wasteland. -

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