BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom

The BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom was set up to monitor and defend academic freedom in the research, study and teaching of Middle East Studies in the UK and anywhere in the world, including in academic institutions in the Middle East and North Africa.

To learn more about how the committee works, please see the Terms of Reference.

The current Chair of the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom is Neve Gordon (Professor of Human Rights Law, Queen Mary University of London).


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Latest Letter

The BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom has written to the President and Rector of Sapir College to express our profound concern over Sapir College's response to the vicious campaign waged by Im Tirzu and some Sapir students calling for the dismissal of Dr Regev Nathansohn from the Department of Communications. We are deeply concerned by Sapir College’s failure to adhere to its duty of care towards a member of its academic staff and by the actions it has taken since the campaign was launched, actions which in effect stifle academic freedom.

10 April 2024

Previous Letters

2024

  • Letter to Prime Minister of Iraq to express our grave concern about the ongoing detention of Princeton University PhD student Elizabeth Tsurkov. 27 March 2024
  • The BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom and La Società per gli Studi sul Medio Oriente (SeSaMO) have written a joint letter to the President and Rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in order to express our profound concern over the decision to suspend Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian from teaching at the university. - 14 March 2024
  • Letter to the Max Planck Society to express our deep concern about the decision to sever relations with Professor Ghassan Hage, a world-leading anthropologist and social theorist. - 13 February 2024
  • Letter to UK Government calling upon them to put pressure on Israel to ensure the immediate end of the indiscriminate targeting and systematic destruction of the Palestinian education system in the Gaza Strip, and to stop government and corporate British arms sales to the Israeli military until the International Court of Justice issues its final ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide. - 30 January 2024
  • Letter Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Birmingham, to express serious and urgent concern regarding the cancellation of the Staff-Student Listening Session on the Current Situation in Palestine, organised by staff at the Law School, originally scheduled to take place on November 15th and then postponed to November 22nd, before being effectively cancelled. - 16 January 2024

2023

  • Letter to Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews to express deep concern over the University’s response to Rector Stella Maris’ recent communication to students in the wake of the catastrophic violence and loss of life in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. - 28 November 2023
  • Letter to President of Achva Academic College, expressing our profound concern over the dismissal of Dr. Uri Horesh. - 27 November 2023
  • Letter to members of the UKRI Board to express our deep concern about the letter addressed to the Chief Executive of UKRI, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, and shared on the social media platform X by the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP over the weekend and the response to it. - 31 October 2023
  • Letter to President of David Yellin College of Education to express our profound concern over of the suspension of Professor Nurit Peled Elhanan. 30 October 2023
  • Letter to Hebrew University in Jerusalem to express our profound concern over the content of their letter of 29 October to Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, its widespread dissemination and, given the current atmosphere in Israel, its capacity to incite both verbal and physical violence against Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian. - 30 October 2023
  • Letter to Dr Jo Grady, General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), regarding the profound threats to free speech and academic freedom that academics and students are facing since the outbreak of violence in Palestine and Israel on 7th October. - 25 October 2023
  • Letter from BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom to presidents of Israeli universities and colleges and to members of Israel's Council for Higher Education expressing profound concern over the suspension and investigation of scores of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are students and staff in institutions of higher education. - 24 October 2023
  • Statement from BRISMES Council and Committee on Academic Freedom expressing deep concern over the political backlash within UK academia following the horrific events in Israel and Palestine. - 14 October 2023
  • The BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom, the Italian Society for Middle East Studies (SeSaMO) and the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) wrote a joint letter to Israeli authorities to express our concern for the Italian-Palestinian student Khaled El Qaisi. - 28 September 2023
  • The Academic Freedom Committee wrote to Iraqi authorities to express our profound concern about the recent directives which ban or limit the use of the terms “gender” (al-naw‘ al-ijtima‘i and al-jindar) and “homosexuality” (al-mithliyya) from official documents, institutions, and media platforms.- 29 August 2023
  • The Committee on Academic Freedom wrote a letter to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to express deep concerns about the ongoing detention of Dr Ahmed Tohamy, Assistant Professor of Political Sciences in the Faculty of Economic and Political Sciences, Alexandria University. - 15 August 2023
  • Following the heartening news of the decision to pardon Mr Patrick George Zaki, the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom together with the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Italian Society for the Study of the Middle East (SeSaMO) wrote to the Egyptian government and to EU and Italian authorities regarding the ongoing detention of thousands of other students, academics, researchers and human rights defenders in Egypt.- 25 July 2023
  • Statement in solidarity with Dr Muriel Asseburg of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs after she came under attack by the Israeli embassy in Berlin following comments that she made in a podcast discussing the situation in the Middle East. - 18 July 2023
  • BRISMES has signed a joint letter to Bahraini authorities expressing grave concern for the well-being of Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, an academic, award-winning human rights defender and blogger serving a life sentence in Bahrain solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. - 8 July 2023
  • Letter to Leiden University to express serious and urgent concern regarding the cancellation of the event ‘Apartheid in Palestine, Namibia, and South Africa - Ending Apartheid: Learning from the past and present’, organised by Students for Palestine (SfP), African Students Association (ASA) and the BASIS Africa Committee. - 6 July 2023
  • BRISMES has signed a joint letter from 51 organisations calling for the release of Dr Salah Soltan, an arbitrarily detained academic in Egypt. The co-signing organisations believe that the Egyptian authorities’ abuse of Dr Soltan, a legal US permanent resident, appears to be in retaliation for the human rights work of his son, Mohamed Soltan, who lives in the USA.- 3 May 2023
  • BRISMES has signed a joint letter from 104 organisations strongly urging the United Nations not to endorse or adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism which has been used to surpress criticism of human rights violations by Israeli authorities.- 20 April 2023
  • Statement of support for the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS), which abruptly had its partnership with the Lebanese American University (LAU) terminated. The committee expressed its support for CLS and its appreciation for the vital work that it does in Lebanon, the Middle East and the UK. - 1 March 2023
  • Letter to UK Foreign Secretary requesting that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office urges Saudi authorities to ensure that the death penalty against academics Awad Al-Qarni, Salman Alodah and Hassan Farhan al-Maliki is dropped and that they are immediately released from prison. - 2 February 2023
  • Statement from the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom in response to the Rebecca Tuck KC report on alleged antisemitism in the National Union of Students (NUS). - 1 February 2023
  • Letter to Bahraini authorities expressing concern about the ongoing imprisonment of Bahraini academic Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace and the violations of his academic freedom. - 4 January 2023

2022

  • Open letter to COP27 attendees providing essential information regarding the state of academic freedom in Egypt. - 3 November 2022
  • Letter to Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of University of Glasgow, expressing deep concern regarding the university's treatment of Ms. Jane Jackman. - 1 November 2022
  • Statement of solidarity with academic staff and students in Iran who have been protesting following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini. -6 October 2022
  • Letters to Leeds University and to the UK government to express alarm at the conviction and jailing of Leeds University PhD student Salma al-Shehab. - 24 August 2022
  • Letter to the University of Edinburgh and LSE urging them to clarify and restate their commitment to academic freedom in light of their partnerships with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) whose annual conference, COP27, is scheduled to be hosted by Egypt in November 2022. - 17 August 2022
  • Letters to Diaa Rashwan, Coordinator of the National Dialogue in Egypt, to express our deep concern about the ongoing detention of:
    • Alexandria University Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dr Ahmed Al-Tohamy Abdel-Hay - Read letter
    • Helwan University’s former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Dr Elsayed Hassan Shehabeldin Abo Zaid - Read letter
    • Former Cairo University Engineering Professor Dr Essam Hashish - Read letter
    • Egyptian Professor of Engineering Dr Mohamed Ali Beshr - Read letter
    • Egyptian scholar Dr Salah Soltan, who is also a resident of the United States - Read letter
    - 9 August 2022
  • Letter to Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna to express our serious and urgent concern regarding the cancellation of a talk by Dr Walaa Alqaisiya scheduled for May 30 at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies as part of its Spring Curatorial Program 2022, Art Geographies. - 27 May 2022
  • Letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet to protest against Israeli violations of Palestinian academic freedom and to call on the Prime Minister to cancel the recently announced “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region”. - 6 April 2022
  • Letter to Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor University of Manchester, to express our concerns about the University’s treatment of Alistair Hudson, Director, Whitworth Art Gallery (WAG). - 8 March 2022
  • Letter to Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University regarding the investigation of Shahd Abusalama and cancellation of the class she was scheduled to teach. - 25 January 2022

2021

  • Letter to the UK Home Secretary to express our concern about statements made by the Home Secretary following LSE student protests against the Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely. - 16 November 2021
  • Report on meeting between BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom and the Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan, and Baroness Barran, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, in follow-up to our correspondence with the Minister regarding the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. - 28 October 2021

2020

  • Letter to Egyptian President regarding the arrest and detention of Dr Ahmed Tohamy and the continued detention of Mr Patrick George Zaki. - 29 November 2020
  • Letter to Israeli government calling for the immediate release of Professor Imad Barghouthi. - 22 October 2020
  • Letter to the President of the German Rectors' Conference regarding the recent resolution entitled ‘No place for antisemitism’ and its implications for academic freedom. - 26 February 2020
  • Letter from BRISMES regarding the arrest and detention of Mr Patrick Zaki. - 14 February 2020
  • BRISMES signs open letter calling for the release of Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, academics imprisoned in Iran since last year on charges of espionage. - 11 February 2020

2016-2019

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