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: December 15, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Misan

Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On 15 December 2020, an explosive device was detonated outside the house of the University of Misan’s President Abdul Basit Mohsen Ayal.

According to reports, the device was detonated in front of the president’s home, causing material damage to the home and a car. There were no casualties. 

Security forces responded to the attack and opened an investigation. As of this report, it does not appear that a suspect or suspects have been publicly identified by the authorities. 

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research condemned the bombing and referred to it as part of a targeted campaign of attacks on university professors and academics in the country.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on a leader of a higher education institution. In addition to the potential harm and personal risk to the victim and their family, such attacks target higher education’s core values, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and social responsibility. State authorities are responsible for safeguarding these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space by pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).–.html