Hecklers' (Terrorists'?)Veto at University of Leeds?:

From Scholars for Peace in the Middle East:

On Wednesday morning March 14, just hours before an invited academic talk and two-day academic workshop series by SPME Board member, Matthias Kuentzel, German scholar, the University of Leeds cancelled this invited, university- sponsored, two-day workshop on "Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East."

Dr Kuentzel's talk is part of a series of scholars' and artists' talks at the German Department. The series is supported by a grant form the School of Modern Languages, who did not raise any issues during the grant application process. The University cited security reasons for cancelling the workshop based on threatening emails it received to the Office of Vice Chancellor.

Dr. Kuentzel is a research assistant of one the world's leading institute in the research of antisemitism, the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the board of directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, an academic society with about 0ver 9000 faculty throughout the world. who is a Research Associate at the Vidal Sasson Institute on Anti-Semitism of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The series of events had been well publicised for several weeks.

Members of SPME and other academics of good will from around the world are being asked to immediately write to the Vice Chancellor’s Office at 0113-3434030 or e-mail m.j.p.arthur@adm.leeds.ac.uk to demand that this event be allowed to continue with appropriate security.

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  2. Hecklers' (Terrorists'?)Veto at University of Leeds?:
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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?:
Comments