The president of the French student union says no to a student protest over tuition fees that has drawn widespread condemnation across Europe.
“I have to say that this is not about a war against France, this is about a struggle for the future of Europe,” Guy Proulx told France Info radio.
“The students are not fighting for the French people or the French state, but for a European society, for the creation of a European state, for a society based on the values of freedom and justice, for democracy and equality, and above all for the preservation of our borders and our borders are a common part of our values.”‘
It’s not a political protest’The president of French student Union, Guy Pouilx, said no to students staging a demonstration outside the Elysee Palace in Paris.
“This is a peaceful demonstration, the student representatives were invited, they were invited to the meeting, they went there, but there was no protest, no demonstrations,” he said.
He said the protests had no political aims, saying: “The only purpose of these protests is to defend the values that we have been demanding, that the French government and the state do not abandon.”
But the president’s remarks are a blow to students across Europe who have said they want the government to scrap tuition fees for many of their students, who are eligible for free or reduced-price public universities.
“It’s the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall that I’m seeing the kind of reaction that we are seeing from students around the world,” said Thomas van der Wiel, a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam.
“I think it shows that the students are angry and they are not just angry because they’re upset with what is happening in the world.”
Student leader Nabil Bensouda, a junior, said: “What we want is a European education, for our kids to be educated, not to have to study abroad.”‘
We have the right to protest’Bensoudab said he had no intention of disrupting the meeting but said the government should rethink its position on tuition fees.
“We have always been on the side of free and reduced-cost universities, which is why we support the government’s decision,” he told French radio.
“What I want is to see the government change its stance, because the students want this,” he added.
France has been a centre for protest and anti-system protests since the 1989-1991 Paris riots that sparked the student movement known as the Arab Spring.
It is not the first French city to have a student-run student union.
Last year, hundreds of students marched in front of the Paris cathedral demanding higher tuition fees and higher living standards.