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: May 01, 2018

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Damanhour University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 1, 2018, it was reported that Damanhour University suspended and commenced an investigation against Ahmed Rashwan, a history lecturer at the university’s teachers’ school, for allegedly insulting prominent Egyptian clerics.

In his book, Studies in Modern Arab History, Rashwan reportedly claimed that the former Mubarak government had advanced a rise in “political Islamism” that led to radicalism. University authorities alleged that, in making his argument, Rashwan insulted prominent clerics from the Mubarak era, including former minister of religious affairs Metwaly el-Sharawy, and Amr Khaled, a television preacher. Rashwan denied these allegations. The university’s president ordered an internal investigation into Rashwan’s writings to assess whether he was liable for defamation, and suspended him from the university for three months.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about professional retaliation against a scholar for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression within his area of expertise. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such actions negatively impact free expression on campus and harm democratic society generally.