Mordaunt: Strict response needed if UK campus Gaza protests replicate US

Protesters must be met with an “extremely strict response” if they attempt to replicate violent pro-Palestinian demonstrations at US university campuses, according to Penny Mordaunt.

The Commons Leader issued the warning to universities after she condemned the “disgusting” scenes witnessed in the United States, which resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 protesters.

Nationwide campus demonstrations began in the US last month to protest against Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which followed Hamas launching a deadly attack on Israel on October 7.

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative former minister Sir Michael Ellis asked for a debate on “antisemitism at UK universities”.

Sir Michael told the Commons: “There are reports in today’s press some groups wish to actually replicate American-style protests where we’ve seen rioting and criminal damage.”

He said “terrorist slogans” had been chanted and “Hamas headbands” worn at the US protests, adding: “We don’t want this type of terrorist-supporting delinquency in this country at UK universities.

Michael Ellis
Conservative former minister Sir Michael Ellis asked for a debate on ‘antisemitism at UK universities’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Mordaunt replied: “(Sir Michael) is right to draw attention to the disgusting scenes that we have seen in some universities in the United States and I think those activities are being met with the appropriate action and I think some universities have taken a very strict stance with regard to that.

“I think, and I hope, all UK universities will be in no doubt about their responsibilities to all that attend their campuses and their facilities but, in particular, those communities that are feeling particularly under attack.

“That is what we expect of them and we hope and expect that they will meet any such notion of similar protests with an extremely strict response.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman would not comment on protests in the US, but said: “We’ve always been clear that people have a right to peaceful and lawful protest but clearly people shouldn’t abuse that right to intimidate others, cause unnecessary disruption.

Tom Southerden, Amnesty International UK’s law and human rights director, said: “The right to peaceful protest is fundamental to our democracy and it’s vital that UK universities and the police respect and protect peaceful student protests on Gaza.

“Peaceful, student-led protests are an important part of the movement across the globe against Israel’s war crimes, apartheid and possible genocide in Gaza.

“The authorities in the UK must avoid the dangerous clampdown we’ve witnessed at university campuses across the US.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –