Organized at the initiative of a pro-Palestine student association, a conference by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the “rebellious” candidate for the European elections, Rima Hassan, which was to be held on Thursday April 18 at the University of Lille was finally canceled by the establishment on Wednesday.

For the University, “the conditions are no longer met to guarantee the serenity of the debates” and has therefore “decided to no longer authorize the holding, within its walls, of the conference of Mr. Mélenchon and Mrs. Hassan scheduled for this Thursday, April 18.” . “We can only regret, in this context, the pressure exerted on the educational and scientific autonomy of higher education establishments,” she continued in this press release.

In reaction, the national coordinator of La France insoumise, Manuel Bompard, denounced “censorship”. “We regret the decision of the presidency of the university which shows itself incapable of resisting the pressures which attack freedom of expression, undermine university and academic freedoms and aim to silence the voices of peace in the Middle East”, he lamented in a press release broadcast on “Communication about the new location will be sent to registrants,” he specifies.

Several elected representatives from Renaissance, the National Rally and the Republicans had called for its cancellation. Among the grievances invoked, the logo of the organizing association “Free Palestine” which was on the conference poster. On it appears a territory encompassing Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, on which the name of the association “Free Palestine” is affixed.

For the association, its logo “in no way denies the existence of Israel”

The LR president of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, had notably called for its ban. “We cannot tolerate, in a French university, such a conference by La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Rima Hassan who, through the “Free Palestine” logo, deny the existence of the State of Israel “, he said. A request shared by the RN vice-president of the National Assembly Sébastien Chenu who had affirmed that “anti-Semitic remarks will probably be made” on this occasion. The Renaissance MP from the North, Violette Spillebout, had written to the president of the university to underline the “very heavy responsibility” of LFI “in the anti-Semitic explosion in France”.

The logo in question was visible on the poster, alongside photos of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the controversial Franco-Palestinian activist Rima Hassan, seventh on the list of European rebels. Raphaël Glucksmann, candidate for the Socialist Party and Place publique, regretted on TF1 on Wednesday that Jean-Luc Mélenchon “appears” with the logo of an association “which denies the existence of the State of Israel”, while by refusing to call for the cancellation of this conference.

In a press release sent to Agence France-Presse by LFI, the Libre Palestine association, created in November 2023 in the wake of the October 7 attacks, assured that its logo “in no way denies the existence of Israel.” .

“We have simply mobilized a map which represents a region of the world crossed by an undeniable process of colonization and whose definition of borders is an issue of unstabilized struggles”, specifies the association, adding that it has “never promoted hatred or uttered anti-Semitic remarks.” Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Rima Hassan were also announced during a meeting of La France insoumise as part of the campaign for the European elections, Wednesday evening, in Roubaix.