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: April 29, 2015

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):International Islamic University Malaysia

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

A forum at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), also known as Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA), was cancelled just hours before it was scheduled to take place on April 29, 2015, allegedly because one of the invited speakers was an elected member of the opposition party. 

Shortly before the forum, titled “The Great Debate Series 2: Everything in Moderation – Ways of Living Together,” was scheduled to start, the British High Commission, which was a co-organizer of the event along with the University of Nottingham, announced that they would be “unable to host the event as initially planned.” A spokesman for the University of Nottingham — which has a campus in Malaysia — indicated that the event was cancelled at the instruction of IIUM senior management, because they did not approve of the presence of Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, a politician in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat party, who had been selected as a panelist.

The event was later reconvened at a venue off campus.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about attempts to cancel or intervene in peaceful on-campus events, or to otherwise limit academic or political expression or freedom of association on campus – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. University authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such activities, so long as they are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Actions limiting the rights to free academic expression or association on campus have a chilling effect on academic freedom, and undermine democratic society generally.