Tensions over the conflict in Gaza escalated into a brawl Wednesday afternoon at Concordia University in downtown Montreal.
Three people were injured and a 22-year-old woman was arrested, according to Montreal police, after a violent clash broke out between students over the conflict in the Middle East.
Police were called to intervene just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday after a skirmish between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel students. Students can be seen in multiple videos posted on social media, pushing and violently shoving during the heated exchanges.
It took officials several hours to break up the event.
The confrontation began after the two student groups held individual fundraising and awareness events at the same time only a few feet apart in one of the school’s common areas.
A 54-year-old, a 19-year-old security guard, and a student in their 20s suffered minor injuries, according to police.
On Wednesday night, Concordia University president Graham Carr condemned what he said were three separate acts of violence or intimidation at the school that day. In addition to the two security guards and a student being injured, swastikas were found on a university building, and a student group published a social media post that could be interpreted as inciting violence.
The violent video garnered strong political reaction, with many calling for calm.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante strongly condemned the incident on social media, saying that “acts of violence have no place” in the city.
Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel and Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry wrote a joint letter to administrators at colleges and universities across the province. They say it’s “imperative” that post-secondary schools remain places of “constructive and respectful” exchange and debate.
“We will not tolerate any form of intimidation, violence and incitement to hatred,” the ministers wrote in the letter that was posted publicly on social media early Thursday.
“In order to guarantee and ensure the safety of everyone, we ask you to be extremely vigilant and to report, in real time, to the competent authorities in your territory any manifestation or behavior that does not respect the standards established in the inside your campuses.”
At the provincial legislature, leaders of the opposition parties also called for cooler heads.
“We have to make sure that people will respect each other, we have to calm down and we hope that the authorities will be quick to react if there’s any misbehaviour,” said Quebec Liberal Party interim leader Marc Tanguay.
Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller also condemned the incident in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “It is sickening to see the violent targeting of Jewish students take place at Concordia University today. In no way is this behaviour acceptable in any context. It must cease immediately.”
— with files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press