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‘Violent stir not protected’: US president Joe Biden breaks silence on college protests over Gaza conflict – Times of India



NEW DELHI: US President Joe Biden on Thursday finally broke his silence on campus unrest over the war in Gaza, saying Americans have the right to demonstrate but not to unleash violence.
“Dissent is essential for democracy,” but added, “But dissent must never lead to disorder,” said the US president.
The protests have been fueled by tensions over the war in Gaza, with demonstrators refusing to remove campus encampments and administrators resorting to police intervention to clear them, resulting in clashes that have garnered attention from politicians and the media.
Biden expressed his opposition to deploying the National Guard and stated that the protests have not influenced his approach to the war.
The Democratic president, seeking re-election in November, has walked a careful line of denouncing antisemitism while supporting young Americans’ right to protest and trying to limit longer-term political damage.
Here’s what Biden said:

  • Violent protest is not protected. Peaceful protest is
  • Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law. Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancelling of classes and graduations -none of this is a peaceful protest
  • The United States was not an authoritarian nation that silences critics but order must prevail
  • Dissent is essential to democracy but dissent must never lead to disorder or denying the rights of others so students can’t finish the semester and college education
  • There is no place in America for anti-Semitism or threats of violence against Jewish students and no place for Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans.
  • When asked whether the protests would change his position on Gaza, Biden said no, and continued to walk towards the door.
  • While walking, the president was asked if the national guard should intervene, he responded briefly saying “No”.

Despite occasional criticism of Israel’s actions, the president has continued to provide the country with weapons.
He also rejected attempts by Republicans to exploit the situation for political gain, emphasizing that this is a time for clarity, not politics.
The White House has been cautious in its response to the protests, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stating that Biden is closely monitoring the situation and condemning instances of unlawful behavior, such as the forcible takeover of a building at Columbia University.
Republicans have blamed Democrats for the disorder on college campuses and have used the protests as a backdrop for press conferences. Former President Donald Trump has also criticized Biden for his perceived lack of action and leadership on the issue.
(With inputs from agencies)

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