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Arab Students Chase British Envoy From Ramallah College

Scores of violent Arab students forced the British consul general to make a hasty departure from a university in Ramallah on Tuesday.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/5/2013, 8:51 PM

British Consul General Sir Vincent Fean as he leaves Bir Zeit University
British Consul General Sir Vincent Fean as he leaves Bir Zeit University
AFP file

Scores of violent Arab students forced the British consul general to make a hasty departure from a university in Ramallah on Tuesday, according to witness reports.

Consul General Sir Vincent Fean had travelled to Bir Zeit University near Ramallah to deliver a lecture on Britain's policy in the Middle East and the prospects for peace but was turned away by vehement Arab demonstrators, the Ma’an news agency reported.

Video footage showed protesters banging on his car and shouting: "Get out of Bir Zeit!"

Although Fean was hurriedly escorted back to his car and escaped unscathed, the protesters manage to break the car's wing mirror and taped pictures of an Arab prisoner onto the vehicle’s window, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

The protesters also held up Palestinian Authority flags and banners in English and Arabic, one of which read: "I am a refugee because of Balfour" in reference to Britain's publication in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration, which called for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

"This is a message to the world," the “Islamic Bloc At Birzeit University” wrote in a Facebook message.

A consulate official confirmed that Fean was unable to deliver his prepared address due to the riots.

"Because of the demonstration, we reluctantly took the decision to leave," the official told the AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In February 2000, Arab protesters at Bir Zeit threw stones at then visiting French prime minister Lionel Jospin, demanding he leave the university over a speech he delivered at Tel Aviv University in which he called Hizbullah a terrorist organization.