French riot police escorted about 150 student protesters out of the Sorbonne on Monday, ending a new standoff that disrupted the historic Paris university as it reopened from a six-week closure.
In a conference room where some students were holed up, police with riot helmets and shields asked students to follow them out of the building. The students complied, and the evacuation was calm. Before then, protesters had scrawled slogans on the walls and piled up desks in a courtyard. Some offices were sacked, the school said.
Weeks of street demonstrations have dwindled since President Jacques Chirac's government voted to scrap a contested youth jobs law that would have made it easier for companies to hire and fire young workers. Some demonstrators, like those at the Sorbonne, have continued pressing wider demands concerning the government's job policies.
The Sorbonne's column-lined main building on Paris' Left Bank became a symbol of the standoff after students occupied it March 8-11 and riot police stormed in to dislodge them. Monday was the first day of class since then.
Despite the hours-long protest, classes proceeded normally. Police posted outside the building had been on alert for any signs that radical groups could disrupt classes. But protesters from various Paris universities, not just the Sorbonne were able to enter the building using their student ID cards.
University official Nicolas Boudot said the protesters were not representative of the 12,000 students enrolled at the Sorbonne.
"The vast majority of students that we talked to today wanted to return to class," he said.
The Sorbonne was shut for six weeks while workers carried out Ђ550,000 (US$677,000) in repairs and during its regularly scheduled spring break, which ended Monday, reports AP.
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