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NYU to Host “Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring”—April 9

March 23, 2012

New York University will host “Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring,” a panel discussion featuring academics from the North African nation, on Monday, April 9, 6-8 p.m. at NYU’s School of Law, Lipton Hall (108 West Third Street, between Sullivan and MacDougal Streets).

The event, sponsored by the NYU Center for Dialogues, the NYU Scholars at Risk Network, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law, and Human Rights Watch, is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 212.998.8693 or e-mail Subway Lines: A, B, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th Street); 1 (Christopher Street). Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to James Devitt, NYU’s deputy director for media relations, at 212.998.6808 or

More than a year after the revolution that inspired an entire region to action, the Tunisian population now confronts intimidation and violence against their artists, cultural entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and higher education communities. The past few months have produced the harassment of eminent Tunisian intellectuals and the denunciation of various TV stations and media officials connected with the release of two movies said to degrade the sacred values of Islam. At the forefront of the political and social transformations underway throughout the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, analysts say Tunisia offers an important test case for interventions to strengthen local advocates of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression at this sensitive time.

The panel discussion will address the threat that censorship poses to Tunisian communities, specifically analyzing the nature and origin of the spreading violence that has been increasing over the past year. The discussion will be geared toward developing solutions to the current constitutional reform process in Tunisia, scheduled to conclude this fall.

Participants at the panel discussion will include: Fawzia Charfi, professor of physics, University of Tunis; Ikbal Gharbi, associate professor of anthropology, Higher Institute of Theology, Zaytuna University; Habib Kazdaghli, University Professor of Contemporary History and dean of the School of Letters, Arts, and Humanities, University of Tunis-Manouba; and Hamadi Redissi, University Professor of Political Science, School of Law and Political Sciences of Tunis, Al-Manar University. Mustapha Tlili, founder and director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West, will moderate the discussion.

Editor’s Note:
New York University’s Center for Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West emerged from the tragedy of September 11th, which highlighted the need for greater communication among and about the United States, Europe, and the Muslim world. The Center was founded as a forum for constructive debate among the various religious, intellectual, economic, and political sectors of American, European, and Islamic societies. It brings contentious issues between the Islamic world and the West into a more rational plane and promotes this approach to a wide audience, including important constituencies of policy and decision-makers, policy analysts, the media, and educational institutions. For more, go to

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions, associations and individuals acting together to protect threatened scholars, promote academic freedom, and defend everyone’s right to think, question and share ideas freely and safely. Scholars at Risk members save lives by providing sanctuary to professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home country. Through temporary academic positions, SAR members help scholars to escape dangerous conditions and to continue their important work. In return, scholars contribute to their host campuses through teaching, research, lectures and other activities. Many scholars return to their home countries after their visit. When safe return is not possible, SAR works with scholars to identify opportunities to continue their work abroad. The benefits are clear: scholars are free to live and work without fear. SAR members gain talented academics and inspiring, courageous educators. The world benefits from solidarity among higher education institutions, greater awareness of current threats to academic freedom, and deeper appreciation of the vital role of higher education and scholarship in free societies. Scholars at Risk also educates the public about attacks on scholars and higher education communities through the SAR website, email bulletins, publications and events. The SAR Speaker Series brings threatened scholars to member campuses to engage directly with students, faculty, alumni and the community. SAR also advocates on behalf of imprisoned scholars and undertakes research aimed at promoting understanding and respect for academic freedom and related values.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Arts and Science, Around the Square, Events and Traditions

Type: Press Release

NYU to Host “Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring”—April 9

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