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Police raid French university as protests continue

Paris: French riot police raided a university in Paris on Friday to evict students who occupied it over education reforms amid a months-long stand off between trade unions and President Emmanuel Macron. Around a hundred officers took part in the dawn raid on the 22-storey tower block dominating the Tolbiac campus, one of several French faculties occupied in an echo of the momentous student-led protests of May 1968.

Railworkers, civil servants, retirement home workers, lawyers and students have all demonstrated in recent weeks over Macron’s shake-up of the public service, but so far failed to knock him off course.

A day of nationwide protests on Thursday drew only around half as many people as a month ago, disappointing those who have been dreaming of a major showdown.

Students began occupying campuses in March over a new law that introduces an element of selection for access to university degree courses for the first time.

This week the unrest spread to Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po university — Macron’s alma mater — which was taken over by protesters accusing Macron of running a “dictatorship”.

The Tolbiac campus, part of Paris 1 university, has been one of the flashpoints in the movement.

Some of the students threw bottles and other objects at the police when they moved in on Friday, an AFP journalist at the scene said. One person was arrested on charges of rebellion.

“We did not resist,” one masked protester said, saying that the around 100 students holed up inside were “tired”.

The entrance of the site which was guarded by police on Friday, was littered with tables, banners, bottles, rubbish bags and other objects.

The chancellor Georges Haddad accused the students of causing damage worth “several hundred thousands of euros” over the course of their sit-in. “This is the nation’s money that is being wasted,” he said, expressing “relief” that the protesters had been dislodged. — AFP

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