Call for Academics at Saudi University to Speak Out

January 21, 2015

Eighteen Nobel laureates have written to Saudi academics, urging them to publicly oppose the jailing and caning of a blogger who has called for political reform in the country, Times Higher Education reported. The letter was prompted by the case of Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to repeated public caning during a long prison term. While Saudi actions against political reformers are hardly new, the Badawi case has drawn particular outrage.

The letter from the Nobel Laureates is addressed to leaders of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, known by its acronym KAUST, which has recruited numerous Western professors in a push to become a leading global university. "We write out of concern that the fabric of international cooperation may be torn apart by dismay at the severe restrictions on freedom of thought and expression still being applied to Saudi Arabian society," the letter says, in urging academics to speak out about the Badawi case. "We are confident that influential voices in KAUST will be heard arguing for the freedom to dissent, without which no institution of higher learning can be viable," the letter adds. "The undersigned friends of KAUST will be there to support you in asserting the values of freedom that we are all agreed are essential to the future of a University in this twenty first century, and that will determine the success of the extraordinary venture which you lead."



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