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‘We are serious’: Houthis offer to educate US students suspended in campus protests

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DUBAI − Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militia, which has disrupted global shipping to display its support for Palestinians in the Gaza conflict, is now offering a place for students suspended from U.S. universities after staging anti-Israeli protests.

Students have rallied and set up tents at dozens of campuses in the United States to protest against Israel’s war in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

Demonstrators have called on President Joe Biden, who has supported Israel’s right to defend itself, to do more to stop the bloodshed in Gaza and demanded schools divest from companies that support Israel’s government.

Many of the schools, including Columbia University in New York City, have called in police to quell the protests.

More: Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis and beyond: Who are the Iran-backed groups in the Mideast?

“We are serious about welcoming students that have been suspended from U.S. universities for supporting Palestinians,” an official at Sanaa University, which is run by the Houthis, told Reuters. “We are fighting this battle with Palestine in every way we can.”

Sanaa University had issued a statement applauding the “humanitarian” position of the students in the United States and said they could continue their studies in Yemen.

More: Hamas and Iran celebrate anti-Gaza war protests taking US colleges by storm

“The board of the university condemns what academics and students of U.S. and European universities are being subjected to, suppression of freedom of expression,” the board of the university said in a statement, which included an email address for any students wanting to take up their offer.

The U.S. and Britain returned the Houthi militia to a list of terrorist groups this year as their attacks on vessels in and around the Red Sea hurt global economies.

The Houthi’s offer of an education for U.S. students sparked a wave of sarcasm by ordinary Yemenis on social media. One social media user posted a photograph of two Westerners chewing Yemen’s widely-used narcotic leaf Qat. He described the scene as American students during their fifth year at Sanaa University.

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