“We, researchers, jurists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, geographers, economists, political scientists, specialists in Middle Eastern and Arab societies, as well as our supportive colleagues” We wish to draw the attention of….
“We, researchers, jurists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, geographers, economists, political scientists, specialists in Middle Eastern and Arab societies, as well as our supportive colleagues”
We wish to draw the attention of our authorities and colleagues to the serious incidents of censorship and repression that we have witnessed in the French public sphere since the tragic events of October 7th. Within our universities, we are facing intimidations, which manifest in the cancellation of academic events and hindrances to the expression of free academic thought. We are increasingly receiving messages from university administrations, research laboratories, CNRS, and even the Ministry of Higher Education and Research itself, urging researchers and lecturers to report expressions of non-conforming ideas. Serious accusations of anti-Semitism or apology of terrorism have already been made against some colleagues who specialize in the region.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves as a reflection of the thought policing that has taken root in the French academic world over the past several years, in continuation of the invention of “Islamo-leftism” to discredit certain scientific discourses. This has led to self-censorship among researchers, obstructing our intellectual reflection and challenging our professional ethics, especially in a context where these principles are crucial. It is worth noting that this (self-)censorship does not affect everyone equally, as non-specialist colleagues have been able to freely contribute op-eds, articles, and statements without significant contradiction.
Free research, which is a guarantee for the democratic functioning of a society, aims to inform and shed light on realities through historical, geographical, anthropological, sociological, economic, legal, and political analysis tools. These tools allow us to produce diverse and critical perspectives on the world. The concerning dynamics we observe within the academic sphere reflect a broader structural phenomenon of suppressing non-hegemonic speech and thought. Censors exhibit an ideological bias that they impose without caution, rejecting intellectual exchange, which is at the core of our practices.
Our scientific community, largely composed of precarious workers, must denounce this climate of threat that breeds fear and self-censorship, to the detriment of the free expression of our ideas, analyses, and political positions. Our ethical principles as researchers are founded on the right to present our work and analyses without distortion, interruption, and baseless accusations. We also wish to reaffirm our right to support causes and express our solidarity as individual citizens. Therefore, we call on our authorities to ensure an end to intimidations, defamation, and restrictions on scientific discourse, and to protect our colleagues in their mission of disseminating scientific knowledge.