Greece to Deport Foreign Students Engaged in Anti-Israel Protests

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In response to escalating protests against Israel on university campuses, the Greek government has announced the deportation of nine foreign students from the United Kingdom and European Union member states. These students were detained following a solidarity protest for Palestine at Athens Law School on May 14.

A total of 28 individuals were arrested during the protest, facing charges such as disturbing the peace, damaging property, trespassing, and violations related to weapons and flares. Among those detained, nine foreign nationals have been classified as "unwanted aliens" and are considered a threat to public order and national security, prompting their deportation.

Lawyers representing the detained students plan to contest the deportation at a trial in Athens. They argue that the right of free movement for European citizens should not be limited to tourists and investors but should also apply to political actions, including those related to Palestine. The detainees are currently held in the Amygdaleza detention centre.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the detainees described the deportation as an extreme measure for the "crime" of being inside a university. They criticised the Greek government's response as an overreaction and highlighted the broader context of their protest against what they described as genocide.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the New Democracy party, has affirmed that the government will not permit university protests over Israel's actions in Gaza. In 2019, the Mitsotakis administration removed a law preventing security services from entering university campuses, a measure initially established following the violent crackdown on student protests during the military dictatorship in 1973.

The Greek government's stance on Israel has shifted over the years, moving from a historically pro-Palestinian position to a more pro-Israel alignment, largely due to strategic alliances in the eastern Mediterranean involving Greece, Israel, and Cyprus. Despite this political stance, there is a noticeable increase in support for the Palestinian cause among Greek youth, with several protests occurring across Greece in recent months.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

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