Canceled Conference Revives Concerns About Academic Freedom in the Gulf

A graduation ceremony at the impressive campus of the American university of Sharjah in the UAE.

A graduation ceremony at the impressive campus of the American university of Sharjah in the UAE.

source: http://www.chronicle.com

The London School of Economics and Political Science abruptly canceled an academic conference on the Arab Spring it planned to hold over the weekend at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, citing “restrictions imposed on the intellectual content of the event that threatened academic freedom.”

Writing in the Chronicle for Higher Education, Ursula Lindsey says that the last-minute cancellation took place after Emirati authorities requested that a presentation on the neighboring kingdom of Bahrain—where a protest movement was harshly repressed with the support of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates—be dropped from the program.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a scholar on Arab politics at the London School of Economics who was scheduled to give the presentation, was stopped and briefly detained on Friday at the Dubai airport’s passport control. A security official told him he was on a blacklist and not allowed to enter the country.

“The U.A.E. is a strong supporter of efforts by the Government of Bahrain and the opposition parties to resolve their situation through peaceful dialogue,” said a written statement from the Emirati foreign ministry. “Dr. Coates Ulrichsen has consistently propagated views delegitimizing the Bahraini monarchy. The U.A.E. took the view that, at this extremely sensitive juncture in Bahrain’s national dialogue, it would be unhelpful to allow nonconstructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed from within another GCC state.”

read the full article on The Chronicle website

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