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Date posted: July 12, 2007
By MIFTAH

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, MIFTAH, strongly condemns the recent and unfortunate events on the Birzeit University Campus, which resulted in the closing of the university.

On July 11, student supporters of the two student blocs affiliated with Hamas and Fateh engaged in verbal clashes, which later escalated into fistfights and stone-throwing. While no physical injuries were reported, the clashes became so intense, the university administration decided to close down the campus until further notice in order to contain the volatile situation and avoid any harm to its students and staff.

Apparently, the two sides clashed over the situation in Gaza and Hamas takeover of the Strip and also over recent PA security force arrests of Hamas members in the Birzeit/Ramallah area. A day earlier, on June 10, Fateh-backed security forces arrested the student bloc president from the Islamic bloc and two other students of the same political affiliation.

While Fateh and the university administration insist that no security forces entered campus to arrest Hamas loyalists, followers of the Islamic movement said its students were holed up in one of the university buildings in fear of leaving campus and being arrested.

While the administration is justified in ordering the campus closed in light of the recent violent events, MIFTAH hopes the suspension of classes is not prolonged given the importance of education to our society. MIFTAH calls on the leaders of these two student blocs to set their differences aside for the sake of education and spread calm among the entire student body.

Educational institutions have always been a platform for democracy and diversity but should not be allowed to be used as open fields for political confrontations. Birzeit University, just like all universities in Palestine, must continue to be a safe haven for their students and staff. It is incomprehensible that students, teachers and university personnel should have to fear for their wellbeing in their pursuit of knowledge and higher education.

MIFTAH urges all parties involved to focus on the wellbeing of the student body and staff of Birzeit University as well as the overall Palestinian national interests. Sabotaging our right to education and learning can only be counterproductive to reaching our national goals and to bettering ourselves as a society.

MIFTAH also urges the Birzeit University administration to resume the educational process as quickly as possible so as to allow the educational growth of our society to continue in spite of the adversity which surrounds us.

Source: MIFTAH
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