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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Al Aqsa University bans offensive words - like "women" and "Jews"

From Al Monitor:
“I was completely bereft when he pulled me by my hand and embraced me. … I felt warmth emanating from his chest.” This sentence in a short story titled “Love in War” was enough for Gaza's Al-Aqsa University to launch an investigation into faculty member Dr. Khoder Mahjez. Mahjez teaches a course titled “Literature and Modern Criticism” at the Faculty of Arts in Al-Aqsa University. The investigations began following a complaint filed by a female student, who claimed that the professor used obscene words during the lecture.

In an interview over the phone with Al-Monitor, Mahjez said that the obscene words — which he was accused of using by the investigation commission during the interrogation attended by the dean of the Faculty of Arts and a legal advisor — were present in a story he had used as an example in his book, which carries the same name as the course. He added that there had been objections to the use of certain words — such as "women," "sons of a bitch" and "Jews" — as opposed to using terms with ideological connotations that are preferable to the university, such as sons of "monkeys" and "pigs."

"They hate poetry, literature and all that has to do with creativity and life," he said.

Mahjez added that although he retired last year, it is customary for retired teachers to continue to be allocated a few hours of teaching. Yet he was blackmailed, he said, by the University Board of Directors, who threatened to publish a statement that would tarnish his reputation if he did not leave the university. Thus, he resigned.

He explained that his story spread when a journalist friend published it in the local newspaper. This started a war not only with the university administration, but also with the Hamas movement that has been managing the university for years.
Later in the article we learn that "nightgown" is also an obscene word in Hamastan.

An interesting historical note at the end of the article:
However, it appears that monitoring academic freedoms at Palestinian universities has existed ever since their inception in the 1980s. According to a study by Asta, in one of the West Bank Universities the father of a female student filed a complaint against an Arabic literature teacher for discussing the famous novel "Season of Migration to the North" by Sudanese author Tayeb Salih, which contains sexual expressions. Moreover, academic Ghazi Fallah has resigned from his post due to pressure at the same university for describing the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria."

This sounds startlingly like Orwell's "1984" - in "Palestine," if you do not use the modern equivalent of "newspeak," you are charged with a "thoughtcrime." And this applies both under Hamas and Fatah rule, although at the moment Hamas is clearly the innovators in quashing any original thinking in Gaza.

(h/t Gidon Shaviv)