On July 14, 2018, Israeli forces reportedly raided Hind al-Husaini College, canceling a two-day academic conference titled “The Fourth Academic Conference on the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem,” which was to begin that morning. Authorities reportedly detained 15 individuals during the raid, and have shut down the college indefinitely.
The conference, organized by the Jerusalem Waqf and Heritage Reservation Society and the Islamic Supreme Committee of Jerusalem, was planned to convene scholars for discussions on the status of Muslim endowment, property, and the protection of Islamic and Christian heritage in Jerusalem. On July 14, Israeli forces reportedly surrounded the campus of Hind a-Hind al-Husaini College, cancelled the conference, and prevented academics, intellectuals, and religious leaders from entering campus. During their intervention, security forces reportedly detained 15 participants, including Munib al-Masri, who reportedly helped fund the event, and closed the campus until further notice.
Reports indicate that Israel’s Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered the cancellation of the conference, based on allegations that the event promoted incitement against the state of Israel and had been organized deliberately on the anniversary of a terrorist attack at Temple Mount in 2017. The Palestine Education Minister has issued a statement condemning the actions as an attempt to disrupt the cultural and educational progress in Jerusalem.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the entry onto campus of troops, the forced cancellation of an academic event, and arbitrary detentions in apparent retaliation for nonviolent, academic activity — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with scholarly activity and university operations, so long as these are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Actions aimed at limiting such activity undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.