Academic Freedom Media Review

May 18 – 24, 2019

Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements.  Scholars at Risk identifies situations of concern on its own and welcomes reports submitted by faculty, students and volunteers at participating higher education institutions.

Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the reports below reflect those of the originating author and/or publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Scholars at Risk or its members, affiliates, board or staff. Subscribe to SAR’s media review.

A donor’s demands, a revoked chair
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 05/24
A professor at the American University in Cairo is in a dispute with the university over the cancellation of his endowed chair after, he says, he refused to accede to the requests of the original donor’s son that he send him lectures in advance and that he encourage his non-Muslim students to convert to Islam. Read more.

Academics fight back in exile (German)
Luise Samman, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 05/23
In Turkey, they face imprisonment. Many scientists have fled to Germany. From exile, they remain active and follow developments in their homeland with concern. Read more.

Case of ‘white supremacist’ professor raises debate about free speech vs. hate speech on campus
CBC, 05/22
A University of New Brunswick professor accused of being a white supremacist should have the academic freedom to pursue whichever ideas he wants, according to one academic.”We should be free, all of us, to explore ideas as we will,” said Mark Mercer, a philosophy professor at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, and the president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship. Read more.

Denial of a US visa to Hanan Ashrawi
Middle East Studies Association, 05/22
We write on behalf of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and its Committee on Academic Freedom to express our dismay over the State Department’s decision to deny Dr. Hanan Ashrawi a visa to enter the United States. Dr. Ashrawi travels to the United States regularly to visit family as well to speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at university and college campuses and elsewhere. She has never been refused a visa in the past. Read more.

House panel advances bill calling for release of Saudi activists
William Roberts, Al Jazeera, 05/22
A committee of the US House of Representatives has advanced a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia’s imprisonment of 11 women’s rights activists facing trial for political activism. The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to approve and send to the House floor for consideration House Resolution 129 condemning Saudi imprisonment and abuse of female activists. Read more.

One academic sentences to 2 years, 1 month in prison
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 05/22
Having her final hearing at the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court, Academic for Peace Ayşe Gül Altınay has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison on charge on “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization as a non-member.” Read more.

I criticized Poland’s government. Now it’s trying to ruin me
Wojciech Sadurski, The Washington Post, 05/21
Over the past six months, the Polish government’s propaganda machine has repeatedly denounced me as an enemy and traitor. But it hasn’t left it at that. Various authorities and institutions have also sued and prosecuted me. Read more.

US scientists plead for clarity on foreign collaboration rules
Paul Basken, Times Higher Education, 05/20
US research universities are pleading for the Trump administration, as it cracks down on research relationships with foreign nationals, to make clear exactly what is and is not allowed. Campus administrators and scientists – after months of government-led investigations, scholar bans and evictions of foreign nationals from labs – are feeling trapped by unclear or conflicting rules. Read more.

X-ing out Xinjiang
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 05/20
In yet another case of alleged censorship in the China studies field, a scholar says a journal editor censored his book review by requesting the deletion of an opening paragraph that contextualized the book in light of Chinese Communist Party policy toward members of the Uighur ethnic minority group in the region of Xinjiang. Read more.