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: January 04, 2024

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 4, 2024, the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia (IAIS) canceled a planned book launch by Ahmet T Kuru, the director of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the San Diego State University.

Kuru’s book, titled “Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison,” was originally published in 2019 and re-released in Malay in January 2024.

Kuru announced the cancellation of the launch, which was supposed to take place on January 8, on X. IAIS has given no official reason for canceling the launch. However, Kuru received online backlash before the event, including accusations of “liberalism,” a term some use to discredit fellow Muslims. According to reports, the Turkish ambassador to Malaysia also pressured the institute to cancel the event. Kuru, who is Turkish, allegedly previously participated in protests against the Turkish government’s growing influence on universities.

The launch was relocated to the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the cancellation of a previously approved academic event based on political concerns. Academic institutions should protect academic freedom and take all available steps to ensure the exercise of academic freedom, including during events. The disinvitation of speakers on political grounds undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.