A group of Muslim religious scholars arriving from Turkey to participate in a reconciliation conference at the Hebrew University claim that the head of the Social Sciences Faculty refused to greenlight the event, calling it off in short notice. Professor Boaz Shamir, Dean of Social Sciences explained his decision citing the lack of proper coordination between the Students’ Union, which was in charge of organizing the event, and the faculty’s secretariat.
However, the correspondence received by Ynet has Prof. Shamir admitting that “we wouldn’t have hosted an event supporting anti-Darwinist propaganda.”
The Turkish lecturers arriving from Istanbul on a joint initiative between the research and scientific foundation they represent and the Interfaith Encounter Association, were planning to speak at the two Jewish-Muslim conferences at the Hebrew University’s campus on Mount Scopus and at Tel Aviv University.
The speakers planned to talk about uniting between the two religions and denouncing Islamic terror – but also against Darwin’s theory about The Origin of Species.
But someone at the university must have not liked the idea of giving the stage to a foundation that is busy spreading Creationism, not to mention the foundation president’s negation of Darwinism in his books. Hence the cancellation notification received by Prof. Shamir a mere few hours before the event.
'University maintains radical image of Islam'
The dean excused the cancellation by telling the organizers that the conference could not be held in the faculty’s building at any time. Later on in the correspondence, the organizers explained that the Darwinist theory had mistakenly been added to the program and that there was no intention of addressing it in the conference, but Prof. Shamir insisted on not hosting the event.
The foundation criticized the event’s cancellation, claiming that “the Hebrew University chooses to maintain the radical image of Islam and is preventing us from spreading a message of peace. We see this as an undemocratic way of handling ideas.”
The Turkish scholar’s friend, Ehud Tokatly, was shocked by the university’s stance, especially in light of Israel’s struggle against the academic boycott, saying the university should apologize to the lecturers who made it all the way from Turkey to attend the conference: “Where will there be freedom of opinion if not in academia? These are two serious scientists and not some religious Taliban preachers.”
Yehuda Stolov, founder and director of the Interfaith Encounter Association said that “the purpose (of the conference ) was to discuss collaboration between Muslims and Jews for peace and against terror. We had no plans of talking against Darwinism. Unfortunately, the anti-Darwinism made it by mistake into the list of topics on the electronic invitation, which in turn caused the cancellation of the event.”
Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report