In late August 2016, the Germany University in Cairo (GUC) reportedly terminated its contract with Tarek Abol Naga, a professor of architecture, in apparent response to student projects he supervised.
Professor Naga is a renowned architect who has instructed at GUC since 2014. In July 2016, university security officers, reportedly under orders from university administration, destroyed designs created by two senior students supervised by Professor Naga. Parents had reportedly made complaints about the designs, which were exhibited on campus and explored themes including “nudity in the history of humanity” and “feminine divinity across civilizations.”
Over one month later, Professor Naga learned that his contract had been terminated. Authorities did not provide him with justification for his termination. He then contacted the dean of his department, who expressed his support for him and suggested that he appeal the university’s decision. Professor Naga reportedly declined, stating “had I entered into a discussion with them, it would essentially mean that they are in the right. If they have an objection, it is required that they notify the professor in question — and this did not happen.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the termination of a scholar’s employment and the destruction of student projects in apparent retaliation for academic content or conduct. University authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the peaceful exercise of the rights to academic freedom or freedom of expression, so long as those activities are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. The destruction of students’ work, as well as professional retaliation aimed at limiting legitimate teaching activity, harm academic freedom and related values including university autonomy.