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More on Censorship at the University of Leeds:

From Dr. Matthias Kuentzel, whose talk on anti-Semitism in the Muslim world was canceled abruptly, for "security" reasons, courtesy of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East:

No one responsible for the cancellation ever apologized.

The University of Leeds did not and does not treat me like an invited guest speaker, but like someone unwelcome who just makes mischief - quite an unpleasant experience.

Against this background, I was confronted with conflicting information with respect to the two seminars scheduled as follow-up events to my public talk. A press officer told me that only my public talk was cancelled. Faculty members of the German department told me that these seminars were cancelled as well. I finally gave these seminars at a location off the University grounds. Many faculty members and students of the University nevertheless participated. The statement by Roger Gair "The other two events [the seminars] are going ahead as planned" (see Times, March 16) was simply not true.

Roger Gair's statement of March 19 is as inconsistent as his press release of March 15.

1. His comparison of my talk with the talk of an Israeli diplomat is completely misleading, since I am not a diplomat (with all the security requirements that such a status implies) but an academic.

2. He admits that the University in my case "received no threats, and only a handful of complaints". Why then has my "lecture been cancelled on safety grounds … to protect the safety of participants in the event" as his press release says? Why then did Mr. Gair demand that "around twenty people in total" or - in his press release four days earlier - "around 30 people in all" had to be in place just for security reasons?

3. His assertion that the organisers of my talk "did not give us enough notice" to provide for this amount of security staff is misleading, since my talk in Leeds had been scheduled four month earlier and the publicity for it had been out of weeks.

4. It was not my lecture which came to the University's "attention less then 36 hours before it was due to take place" - as his press release asserts - but rather some E-mails by Muslim students who asked the University only on March 13 to "provide a solution … by cancelling the lecture all together" and to "apologize to the Muslim Community as a whole, for suggesting such a topic."

That is why I cannot find the Secretary's claim that my public lecture "was cancelled neither for any reason of censorship nor because of pressure from any interest group" convincing. Instead, there are many indications that the University anticipated potential protests before they ever happened and thus practiced self-censorship.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Censorship at the University of Leeds:
  2. Hecklers' (Terrorists'?)Veto at University of Leeds?:
neurodoc:
I once proposed, but was not taken up on the offer, a quite serious one, to endow an award for the "Most Pusillanimous University Administrator of the Year." Mr. Gair would certainly be a serious contender for that distinction. (What position does he occupy in the university?)
3.20.2007 8:34pm
neurodoc:
OK, to answer my own question: According to the Leed's website, Mr. Gair is University Secretary, with responsibility for "corporate governance, audit and risk management; supporting the Council (the governing body), the Senate (the principal academic authority) and the main committees of the University;...events management;
student complaints and discipline."
3.20.2007 8:45pm
Ilya Somin:
once proposed, but was not taken up on the offer, a quite serious one, to endow an award for the "Most Pusillanimous University Administrator of the Year." Mr. Gair would certainly be a serious contender for that distinction.

There may be more worthy contenders for that title than you think! University administration is not exactly a job that attracts the unusually courageous.
3.20.2007 8:45pm
Michael B (mail):
Matthias Kuntzel's English language translations can be found at his site here; sound scholarship and reportage, consistently well researched and documented with footnotes. Those pieces include the following:

Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East

National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World

European Roots of Antisemitism in Current Islamic Thinking
3.20.2007 9:09pm