Leeds University cancels ‘Islamic anti-semitism’ talk
The University of Leeds hit back at critics accusing it of censorship after it cancelled a public lecture on ‘Islamic anti-semitism’ due to be delivered by a visiting academic.
The university said it had cancelled the lecture on security grounds and insisted it had nothing to do with “academic freedom, freedom of speech, anti-semitism or Islamophobia”.
The university’s secretary, Richard Gair, said: “Those that are claiming that is the case are making mischief.”
Dr Matthias Küntzel, from the Vidal Sassoon international centre for the study of anti-semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was due last night to deliver a lecture called ‘The Nazi legacy: the export of anti-semitism to the Middle East’.
The title of his lecture had originally been ‘Hitler’s legacy: Islamic anti-semitism in the Middle East’ but he agreed to a change after the head of the department of the school of modern languages and cultures pointed out the title was “unnecessary inflammatory”.
The university said it had cancelled the lecture, which was open to the public, on safety grounds as it had only been told of the event less than 36 hours before it was due to take place.
Some university’s Members have claimed the cancellation prevented academic free speech. But the university denied it had bowed to pressure to cancel the event following the emails, which amounted to a handful of complaints.
It pointed out that on Tuesday the university had hosted a talk by the director of public affairs from the Israeli embassy in London which had been organised by the university’s Jewish Society. “We received more complaints about this meeting than Dr Küntzel’s,” said Mr Gair.