Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Academic freedom, PalArab style

An-Najah university is back in the news.

This august institution of higher learning has made the headlines before. It was, after all, where they put up an "art exhibition" celebrating the Sbarro's pizza bombing, complete with body parts:

It has been recognized as a hotbed of terror, boasting many suicide bombers from its alumni.

More recently, it was "twinned" with Manchester University and added cultural ties with universities in France and Germany as well.

With such stellar credentials, who would be surprised when it decides to suspend classes because the students started shooting each other?

Dozens of Palestinian students were wounded, some seriously, in clashes that erupted on Tuesday at An-Najah University in Nablus between Hamas and Fatah supporters.

Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that some of the students fired from pistols and Kalashnikov assault rifles during the melee, which was described as one of the worst incidents of its kind on a Palestinian campus in the West Bank.

"The students turned the campus into a real battlefield," said one eyewitness. "They fought each other with chairs, knives, swords and everything they could get their hands on."

Following the clashes, the university administration decided to suspend studies until further notice and advised all students to stay away from the campus.

Rami Hamdallah, president of An-Najah University, accused Hamas-affiliated students of instigating the clashes.

"The Islamic list on campus has been planning these clashes for a long time," he said. "They are trying to disrupt the educational process on West Bank campuses as they did two weeks ago in Bir Zeit University.

Bir Zeit University was also closed down earlier this month following severe clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters. Tensions have been running high on all West Bank campuses ever since Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

We're still waiting for the condemnations from people who support free speech and academic freedom.

Any minute now!