Blinken criticises silence over Hamas as pro-Gaza protests spread on college campuses

The graduation ceremony at the University of Southern California was cancelled

Pro-Gaza protests in US campuses Pro-Palestinian supporters hold signs as they demonstrate at the University of California | AP

As protests over Gaza continue to spread on college campuses, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said that these were the hallmark of American democracy. However, he criticised the "silence" over Hamas and its militant activities. 

While speaking at a press conference in China, Blinken said that he understood the conflict elicited "strong, passionate feelings" and assured that the administration was doing all it could to halt the war. 

In the latest protests, the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles cancelled its graduation ceremony citing "new safety measures" as many gathered to protest. 

"In our own country, it's a hallmark of our democracy that our citizens make known their views, their concerns, their anger, at any given time, and I think that reflects the strength of the country, the strength of democracy," Blinken said. 

Hundreds of people have been arrested on dozens of campuses where protests have sprung up in support of Palestinians in Gaza. 

At Atlanta's Emory University, 28, demonstrators were arrested on Thursday after refusing to leave. The latest wave of campus protests began after officials at Columbia University called in police to clear a new protest encampment and over 100 people were arrested. 

Criticising "silence" over Hamas, Blinken said that "It is notable that there is silence about Hamas as if it wasn't even part of the story. 

"But as I've also said repeatedly, the way Israel goes about ensuring that Oct. 7 never happens again matters profoundly. And we're working every day to try to minimize the damage that's done to innocent people and to make sure that they have the assistance and support that they need," he added. 

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