SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 12, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Al al-Bayt University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Jordan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 27, 2013 five students at Al al-Bayt University were charged with “incitement” by a state prosecutor for allegedly desecrating a Koran and “devil worship.”  The students had been attacked and assaulted by fellow students on March 12, after a rumor that they had ripped and burned a Koran manuscript while performing a “religious ritual” in a campus bathroom. Following the incident, local authorities detained the five students and handed them over to the security services. At the time of reporting, the four male students were allegedly being held at Irbid prison in northern Jordan and the female student at the Juweida Women’s detention facility in Amman. All five denied the allegations. 
Scholars at Risk is concerned about allegations of physical assault and violence on campus. While students and other members of higher education communities have the right to engage in expressive activity protesting conduct which they consider improper or offensive (in this case alleged desecration of sacred texts), they have a responsibility to exercise that right peacefully and in a matter consistent with the values of the university space, including social responsibility.  State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect all students from physical assault on campus and to ensure the perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable through proceedings which conform to internationally recognized human rights standards.