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Gaza’s Academics Face Censorship in Classroom

Academics at Gaza’s universities are facing increasing censorship from conservative and Islamist parties, writes Asmaa al-Ghoul.
Palestinian students listen to lectures via a video conference link from Gaza's Al-Aqsa University November 1, 2006. Palestinian student Huda Abu El-Roos enrolled at Bethlehem University in the occupied West Bank in 2003. But Abu El-Roos, who lives in the Gaza Strip, has never set foot inside the campus. Citing security reasons, Israel has prohibited the 21-year-old and nine colleagues from attending classes on occupational therapy in the biblical town. Instead, the students listen to lectures via a video c

“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."

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