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Paris’ regional authorities temporarily suspended funding for Sciences Po this week, in response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations held at one of France’s most elite universities over the war in Gaza, Agence France-Presse reported.

Valérie Pécresse, the rightwing head of the greater Paris Île-de-France region, said she was concerned by escalating tensions fueled by what she described as “a minority of radicalized people calling for antisemitic hatred.”

The suspension, which includes a financial allocation of more than $1 million earmarked for 2024, underscores the deepening divide over the Israel-Hamas conflict within France and elsewhere in Europe.

Students at Science Po and the Sorbonne – another top French university – have held a series of demonstrations over the conflict and the ensuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza over the past few weeks, with some saying the students are inspired by similar protests at universities in the United States. In France, the protesters are demanding an end to the war.

Despite Pécresse’s stance, the French government has not followed suit, saying there had been “no anti-Semitic remarks” and no violence had been committed during the demonstrations. Even so, police moved in earlier this week to clear the protesters from the grounds of the Sorbonne.

Meanwhile, mass protests and demonstrations by unions and labor rights activists hit the capital and other cities during the May Day celebration this week, with tens of thousands expressing grievances that ranged from inflation to anti-Olympic sentiment to opposition to the war in Gaza, the Washington Post added.

Concerned about the Paris Olympics taking precedence over pressing social issues and community welfare, demonstrators clashed with the police and made symbolic gestures of defiance, such as the burning of Olympic rings.

This week’s demonstrations had a smaller turnout compared to previous years – May 1, or Labor Day, is traditionally a day for demonstrations in France and elsewhere in Europe – but the atmosphere remained charged and fueled concerns about potential disruptions to the upcoming Summer Olympics.

The situation has prompted French authorities to handle negotiations with different unions – including police, transport and sanitary workers – delicately in an effort to prevent strikes and ensure that the Games run smoothly.

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