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ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE

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ICFUAE Welcomes NYU’s Decision to Cut Ties with Abu Dhabi Campus Over Sectarianism Claims

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ICFUAE Welcomes NYU’s Decision to Cut Ties with Abu Dhabi Campus Over Sectarianism Claims

ICFUAE welcomes the decision taken by New York University's Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute to end its relationship with New York University Abu Dhabi campus. This follows allegations that two professors, Lebanese-born Shia Mohamad Bazzi and Iranian-born Arang Keshavarzian, were denied visas because of their religious affiliation.

17 academic staff signed a letter to NYU President Andrews Hamilton stating that if professors are denied visas due to their religious beliefs, this would pose a “significant threat to academic freedom on that campus”.

"Since a member of our faculty has been prohibited from teaching at NYU Abu Dhabi, the Carter Journalism Institute is not prepared to continue its relationship with NYUAD," the department said.

"Our faculty, a number of whose members have made the trip to NYUAD or taught courses there, voted unanimously at its last meeting to suspend the Institute's participation in the academic program in Abu Dhabi until these issues are satisfactorily resolved".

Professors are required to state their religion on forms issued by NYU and the UAE and Bazzi, after declaring himself as a Shia Muslim, was denied entry to the UAE to teach a month-long journalism class at the Abu Dhabi campus.

“It is usually easy for American citizens to get a work visa for the UAE. Why was I denied?” He wrote in a New York Time op-ed in September.

NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Studies expressed their solidarity with the Journalism faculty and urged their staff not to teach or participate at the Abu Dhabi campus in a resolution passed earlier this week.

These events are reflective of a wider climate of repression and discrimination in the UAE. While projecting a global image of modernity and tolerance, the reality on the ground is somewhat different and violations to human rights, such as the freedom to religious belief, are systematic. ICFUAE welcomes NYU’s severance of ties with Abu Dhabi and urges other institutions with branches in the UAE, such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, to do the same.

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