On April 11, 2022, Ibn Tofaïl University closed its campus and suspended classes for three days, in order to prevent a three-day series of events responding to the “normalizing” of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel.
The events were described as being part of the “Jerusalem Forum.” The forum’s theme was titled, “For the nation, for Palestine, all against normalization,” and was to include seminars, an arts festival, and a football tournament. The National Student Union of Morocco (UNEM) as well as students affiliated with the Islamist movement Al Adl Wal Ihsane (“Justice and Charity” or “AWI”) organized the forum.
In announcing their decision to close the campus, the university stated that the forum “has a national dimension and is organized in partnership with a non-student body that has nothing to do with the university,” ostensibly referring to AWI. The university also cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and security concerns arising from “tensions that this meeting could leave within the university.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university barring students from holding events on campus, apparently on political grounds, and closing campus and suspending classes as a means of doing this. University authorities should refrain from restricting or otherwise interfering in students’ expressive and academic activities so long as they are peaceful and responsible. Event cancellations and other interference in campus activities on political or ideological grounds undermine academic freedom.