Saturday, June 26, 2010

ISRAEL: Academic denied entry to West Bank

Israeli immigration officials prevented US scholar Noam Chomsky from entering the West Bank last week. Professor Chomsky, renowned for his work on linguistics and philosophy, was planning to deliver a lecture at Birzeit University, BBC News reports. Chomsky said he was denied entry because the Israeli government has long objected to his controversial writings and speeches.

His Palestinian host for the visit, Mustafa al-Barghouti, lambasted officials, claiming their decision was a blatant restriction of freedom of expression.

The interior ministry was reportedly trying to contact the military to clear things up and allow his safe passage. Chomsky has frequently spoken out against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

BBC News

IRAN: French academic leaves Iran after 10 months

A French academic who battled spying charges in Iran for more than 10 months returned to France on 16 May. Clotilde Reiss was accused of collecting information and provoking rioters during the widely disputed June presidential elections in Iran.

She was released on bail after a month and a half in Iran's dreaded Evin prison but only on condition that she stayed at the French Embassy in Tehran until her trial was over.

The case of Clotilde Reiss aroused widespread controversy in France and put extra strain on the already tense relations between the two countries. According to the Associated Press, officials have denied speculation that Reiss' return home was part of an exchange deal involving two Iranians held in France, one of whom was allowed home a little over a week ago.

President Sarkozy thanked Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Syrian President Bashar Assad for their help in the case.

Associated Press

UK: Archbishop delivers speech on intellectual freedom

On 12 May, Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, delivered a lecture Enriching the Arguments: the refugee contribution to British life to a large invited audience at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London. The event was jointly sponsored by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics and University College London.

The archbishop focused his lecture on the refugee intellectual, the practical contribution they had made to British life, and the importance of intellectual freedom and critical reasoning in modern-day society.

UCL UK University Network representative Professor Michael Worton stressed the need for universities to be places of welcome for refugee scholars, quoting Timothy Redcliffe that "universities should be places where we learn to talk to strangers".

Council for Assisting Refugee Academics

KENYA: University of Nairobi shuts after riots

The University of Nairobi has been shut indefinitely after four days of unrest over disputed union elections, Capital FM Kenya has said. Students of the university began rioting after making complaints about interference in the University Students Association elections.

On 17 May, three students at the university were charged in court for using violence during the riots. All three denied the charge before Nairobi's principal magistrate.

Higher Education Minister William Ruto opposed a decision to disband the students union and asked the institution's administration to resolve the issue.

Capital FM Kenya

PAKISTAN: Students injured during ethnic clash

More than 40 students were injured in clashes between two ethnic groups in four different educational institutions of Balochistan, the Daily Times reported. The University of Balochistan suspended academic activities for three days and the Agriculture College Quetta, University of Engineering and Technology, was closed for an indefinite period.

Clashes first erupted at the college between activists of the Baloch Students Organisation and the Pashtun Students Organisation.

Police and law enforcement agencies rushed to the college and evacuated it. According to the Daily Times, further confrontations between the same rival groups erupted at the University of Balochistan, as news of the clash at the Agriculture College spread. Police and security personnel have been deployed in all major educational institutions to maintain peace.

The Daily Times

INDIA: Students seek answers after being barred from exams

A group of architecture students who were barred from taking formal examinations after failing to attend enough seminars reportedly turned to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal for help.

The Times of India said the students, who attend the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi, began protests on Monday claiming the system was unfair.

The institute said it was executing a 2001 Union Grants Commission regulation which makes 75% attendance mandatory for students to sit for the exams.

The Times of India

* Jonathan Travis works for the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR)

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