Thursday, February 09, 2006

More on the Cartoon Saga, Dubai

From this article here

An American professor at Dubai’s Zayed University was fired after she distributed cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed out of “respect” for freedom of expression, the local press reported Wednesday. The United Arab Emirates Minister of Education, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, also chancellor of the university, sacked Claudi Keepoz, saying her behaviour “has nothing to do with the freedom of expression.” Keepoz had reportedly told her female students on Saturday that “we should respect this freedom,” as she distributed the cartoons, which have caused an uproar among world’s Muslims.

A text message spread the news of her act. “She accused Muslims of being narrow-minded and intolerant of others’ opinions,” it said. “Could you believe this to be happening in the United Arab Emirates?” “How long are we going to continue to glorify expatriates?” the message asked, referring to the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who have provided the backbone for economic development in the Gulf state. One student’s mother expressed satisfaction over the sacking. “I was about to go to the university myself to punish her... It is halal (permitted in Islam) to kill her,” she told AFP, requesting anonymity.


And from this one here

DUBAI: A university in the United Arab Emirates has fired an administrator for supporting a professor sacked for distributing copies of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to her students a colleague said today.

The colleague, who declined to be named, said Briton Andrew Hearst was fired at the same time as US professor Claudia Kiburz, who had tried to start a debate on the inflammatory cartoons with her students.

''The students went to Andrew to complain about the cartoons but he dismissed them and told them that their professor was right,'' the colleague said.


Neither article has the names totally right: it's Claudia Kiburz and Andrew Hirst. Claudia worked at Zayed University almost as long as my wife did, and Andrew was there right from the beginning. They are colleagues and friends, and saying I don't believe a word of what's being said about them is something of an understatement.

I can believe Claudia would take these cartoons into class, which is something I don't agree with, given the situation. But I don't believe she would openly say that Muslims are "narrow-minded and intolerant of others" - not to her Muslim students, at any rate. That's too mean-spirited for her to utter.

I also have a hard time believing Andrew would have simply "dismissed" the students, and told them she was right. I can see him listening to them and trying to explain what she was doing, and maybe offering to talk to her and see what to do next. But this article makes it sound like he blew them off, though - and that's just not Andrew.

My suspicion is that some of the statements we're hearing about what they said and did were cobbled together by rightly-angry students in an attempt to fan official sentiment and get them fired. It seems to have worked.

I have yet to hear back from either Claudia or Andrew. When I do, I'll let you know what I hear.

I'm speechless, but not surprised. I love Dubai, but my love is tempered with the understanding that all expatriates are essentially there to go. One wrong word, one wrong move, or one wrong thing and you can find yourself going from honored employment to a plane back home - sometimes with a 48-hour turnaround.

I hope they're okay.


2 Comments:

Blogger Ouzian said...

well, I guess all that hip created for tourism goes down the gutter if people's rights are not respected...

...

9:09 PM  
Blogger J. Edward Tremlett said...

That it does. But money often speaks louder than anything...

6:35 AM  

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