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: October 26, 2014

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):International Islamic University Islamabad

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 26, 2014, The International Islamic University Islamabad suspended three staff members for their involvement in a Model United Nations event at the school that featured an Israeli culture information booth.
The Model United Nations event, which was sanctioned by the university, included booths featuring the religions and cultures of Middle Eastern countries.  The booth on Israeli culture, however, had reportedly not been authorized.  After reports about the booth began circulating on local social media, attendees expressed outrage and demonstrations were held to condemn the presence of the booth. The university cancelled the Model United Nations event shortly thereafter.  Dr. Bashir Khan, Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, and Tasneem Fatime, a student adviser, and a lecturer identified by the name Afshan were suspended for their involvement in the event.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the suspension of academics in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right of free expression, and about the cancellation of a university event in response to protests over the content of on-campus expression. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with academic freedom or expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Suspension aimed at limiting such expressive activity harm academic freedom and related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.