French dean suspended, charged over attack on protesting students | News | DW | 30.03.2018
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French dean suspended, charged over attack on protesting students

The dean of a university in southern France has been charged with abetting a violent attack on students protesting reforms. Three people were injured in the incident, which sparked solidarity protests in other cities.

The dean of a university in the southern French city of Montpellier has been formally charged with involvement in a violent attack on students staging a sit-in in protest at more stringent entrance requirements introduced by President Emmanuel Macron.

A prosecutor said on Thursday that the dean, Philippe Petel, and a professor, Jean-Luc Coronel, had both been formally charged in connection with the affair after their arrest a day previously.

The incident occurred overnight on last Friday when hooded men armed with bats entered a lecture theater in the law faculty to evict students protesting at the education reforms. 

Read more: Emmanuel Macron — French savior or tormentor?

Bats and sticks

Videos shared on Facebook showed the men, who had concealed their faces, hitting students with bats and sticks. Three people were injured.

Several students claimed they recognized a number of professors among the attackers.

The incident has sparked several demonstrations in solidarity in Montpellier (top photo) and in other cities across France.

Petel, who was suspended by Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal, has denied any involvement.

Read more: French schools to become obligatory for 3-year-old children

Student protest in Nantes (Getty Images/AFP/L. Venance)

Students in Nantes also took to the streets to protest against the violence

Elitist restrictions?

The moves by Macron's centrist government to make it more difficult to study at university have provoked protests in several cities, with students shutting down or severely disrupting classes.

Critics of the new restrictions, introduced in a bid to combat overfilled lecture halls, say that they are elitist and penalize students from poorer backgrounds.

The new law allows universities to set basic requirements for admission to three-year degree programs. Those students who do not meet the standards will be offered a place if they agree to take extra classes.

In France, students can apply for any university course on the condition that they have passed their baccalaureate, the final secondary-school exam.

Read moreHow Macron wants to reform the EU

tj/kms (AFP, dpa)

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