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 02, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Rhodes College

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Dr. Yasir Qadhi, a professor of Islamic Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, has reportedly been targeted for murder by ISIS, in an article in its magazine, Dabiq, published in early 2015.  He is reportedly the first American professor targeted by ISIS in this manner.

Dr. Qadhi is a public religious figure, with a large following in the Muslim community in the United States, who has spoken out forcefully against religious violence.  His public statements condemning the January 2015 attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo appear to have been the impetus for ISIS’s decision to target him.  The article claims that such criticisms are apostasy, and call for his murder.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the targeting of a professor, intended to silence, limit or retaliate for scholarly expression. Threats of violence have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State and university officials have an obligation to ensure the security of the university space from intimidation and violence, and to do so in a manner consistent with core values, including academic freedom and free expression.