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US Lawmakers Back Free Speech On College Campuses

23.05.2024 22:27

'It is disgusting that the Biden administration and my colleagues in Congress continue to smear them for protesting to save lives,' says congresswomen Rashida Tlaib.

Some US lawmakers stood up for free speech on college campuses after officials at several universities testified Thursday before a House committee on pro-Palestinian protests.

"I am so proud of the brave students and faculty from all different backgrounds and faiths leading nonviolent, civil disobedience in support of saving lives no matter of faith, no matter ethnicity, calling for an end to this genocide," congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said at a news conference.

Her remarks came after members of unions, which represent tens of thousands of educators and researchers at Rutgers University, Northwestern University, the University of California and other schools, were at a congressional hearing where officials from universities have been summoned to testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Pro-Palestine protests have been persistent since April 17, when students at New York's Columbia University launched an encampment in solidarity with the Gaza Strip and demanded the school divest from Israel.

More than 2,000 people have been arrested at US campuses since last month amid heavily polarized debates about the right to protest, limits of free speech and accusations of antisemitism.

Tlaib said it is "utterly disgraceful" that university administrators and government officials are sending militarized police forces to stop students from exercising their First Amendment right.

"It is disgusting that the Biden administration and my colleagues in Congress continue to smear them for protesting to save lives," she added.

'It's not antisemitic to critique Israeli policies'

Congresswoman Cori Bush said protests at Washington University in St. Louis, were "violently" suppressed and an encampment at George Washington University in DC was "violently" cleared.

"Behind every attempt to silence the protests, it is an idea that those in power don't want people to hear," she said.

Pro-peace, pro-humanity and the anti-war movement seek to end the Israeli government's "genocide" in Gaza and to ensure a "just and lasting peace" for Israelis and Palestinians, said Bush.

"Our students, our faculty, our staff, all from different faiths, all from different backgrounds have been on the frontlines of this movement over the past month, and they have been met with appalling, violent, unlawful responses," she added.

Ilhan Omar, a Muslim lawmaker whose daughter, Isra Hirsi, was arrested during a protests at Columbia, said it is "not antisemitic" to critique the policies and military actions of the Israeli government.

"These protests that we have seen on campus across this nation overwhelmingly expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, and are in opposition to the genocide we have witnessed for months," she added.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman said the Republican Party is "racist" and uses antisemitism to destroy liberal education in the US.

"They do not want us to speak up for the most vulnerable here. They definitely don't want us to speak up for the children and babies and innocent people of Gaza," he said. -

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