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.

Latest Letters

On 24 August, the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University and to the UK government to express our alarm at the conviction and jailing of Leeds University PhD student Salma al-Shehab. We are appalled Mrs. Al-Shehab has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for peacefully expressing her views on Twitter, advocating for women's rights and supporting human rights defenders also unjustly persecuted and jailed by Saudi Arabia.

Previous Letters

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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