AURDIP Communiqué following the new censorship at University Paris 1

AURDIP communiqué (March 27, 2015) – A roundtable discussion had been planned for Thursday March 26 at the Université Paris 1, in connection with Israeli Apartheid Week. Three speakers were….

AURDIP communiqué (March 27, 2015) – A roundtable discussion had been planned for Thursday March 26 at the Université Paris 1, in connection with Israeli Apartheid Week. Three speakers were to take part: Farid Esack, Professor at the University of Johannesburg, anti-apartheid activist and president of the South African BDS movement; Palestinian activist Bilal Afandi, and Ivar Ekeland, former president of Université Paris-Dauphine and president of AURDIP (the Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine).

The presidency of Paris 1 waited until March 24 to inform the students who organized the event that it had been banned. Students attempted to negotiate with the administration the whole day of the 26th, but in vain; the administration refused to allow the meeting.

The discussion took place nonetheless at 6 PM, outside the university gates, between security guards who blocked the entry and a police line who separated the participants from a small group of provocateurs waving an Israeli flag.

The speakers made their presentations to an audience of 50 people. At the demand of the police, the meeting was broken off at 7 PM. The administrator of the Tolbiac campus of Université Paris 1 was present.

Once more, AURDIP finds itself protesting censorship, this time as practiced by Université Paris 1. It is astonishing that, at a time when even the government of the United States is beginning to talk about Israeli apartheid, a French university is prohibiting discussion of this theme.

AURDIP adds its voice to the call to French universities attached below, demanding that they resist pressure to block the university professor and anti-apartheid activist Farid Esack from speaking out on Palestine.

We, the undersigned call on French universities not to succumb to pressure to ban Anti-Apartheid Activist and Scholar Farid Esack from Speaking on Palestine

It has come to our notice that various French Universities are coming under pressure to refuse Professor Farid Esack, a prominent figure in the South African anti-apartheid struggle for liberation, a leading gender justice activist and one of the most eminent international scholars on religious pluralism to speak on their campuses on the issue of Palestine. We understand that objections have been raised against his presence on the grounds that he is an alleged anti-Semite and espouses violence.

Professor Esack has in all his written work and speeches displayed a remarkable principled commitment to justice and the struggle against all forms of racism – including anti-Semitism, sexism, economic exploitation and homophobia. His commitment to the struggle of justice for the Palestinian people is but an extension of a life-long commitment to justice. He has consistently opposed anti-Semitism in all its manifestations and has been a beacon for religious pluralism and non-violence.

As academics, social activists, politicians and other members of civil society we may or may not share all of Professor Esack’s views on everything. This is the nature of our work. We, however, protest against any attempt to silence this principled voice for justice.

We urgently request that Professor Esack be allowed to speak at his scheduled events taking place in France.

The list of signatories

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