University of Lille bans Mélenchon's Palestine conference

17 April 2024 / Radouan Kourak

A conference planned at the University of Lille, with speakers the leader of La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and pro-Palestinian activist Rima Hassan, has just been canceled by the university, sparking a wave of reactions.

Initially scheduled for Thursday, this conference, which was to address the question of Palestine, was banned by the university after political pressure and fears linked to international tensions.

The intervention of the Renaissance du Nord MP, Violette Spillebout, was decisive in this decision. She publicly called on the president of the university, as well as the prefect of the North, to request the cancellation of this event, described as “propaganda” in the tense context of the European elections and recent international events.

This cancellation sparked a strong reaction from La France Insoumise, which denounced in a press release the capitulation of the university in the face of political pressure, thus calling into question freedom of expression and the right to information.

Mathéo Tessa, elected student at the University of Lille and member of the UNI, was the first to alert the prefect of the North and the university administration to request a ban on this conference. Contacted by Entrevue, the young man welcomes the ban on the conference. “It was unacceptable for us that an Islamo-left and anti-Semitic discourse was held within our university. The University of Lille is becoming a laboratory of wokism and Islamo-leftism and this conference is proof of it. This victory only marks the beginning of a long fight,” he told us.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon himself expressed his dismay on X (formerly Twitter), deploring the decline in freedom of expression at the University of Lille. He also pointed out the alleged involvement of certain deputies including the socialist Jérôme Guedj.

The university's decision was motivated by recent international tensions, notably Iran's attacks against Israel, which have created a climate of instability deemed incompatible with the holding of a calm debate.

However, despite this ban, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Rima Hassan affirmed their intention to maintain the conference, even if the location remains undetermined for the moment. This firm determination to assert their right to free expression underlines the importance of freedom of opinion and debate in a democratic society.