Qatar University Cancels "Women in Islam" Talk After Controversy and Death Threats

Updated: May 1, 2019

Qatar University postponed a lecture that was supposed to be held on Thursday after its keynote speaker received death threats for her views.

Saudi scholar Hatoon Al Fassi, a Qatar University faculty member, was scheduled to give a speech about women in Islam.


However, since last week, several students and faculty members have launched a Twitter campaign demanding she be dismissed for challenging Qatari and Islamic values. A colleague of hers informed Endangered Scholars Worldwide.


Al Fassi is a renowned scholar on women’s rights, advocating for their right to vote and drive in her home country of Saudi Arabia. She has taught at Qatar University since 2010 in the Department of International Affairs.

“Academic and scientific topics are discussed at Qatar University with a concise scholastic framework inside lecture rooms and auditoria where professors and researchers interact with students in an open discussion for ideas to be exchanged. This is how a scientific or intellectual issue takes shape and evolves even with diverse and conflicting opinions.”


“The university has decided that a vitally important and sensitive topic like women in Islam should be comprehensively discussed through its various dimensions: the religious, social and academic. It, therefore, cannot be put up for a debate that only represents the viewpoints of the people participating in it. Thus, the debate has been postponed to a later date in this semester for a broader seminar to be organized where different speakers can tackle the various aspects of the topic.”


Some Saudi official have also responded to the postponement:


“Regardless of postponing the event, why is the door left open for a discussion with the likes of her (Hatoon Al Fassi)? Why can’t you have a male scholar who is respectful and mindful of religion to lead this discussion? He’d more knowledgeable of the situation of women in Islam.”


Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the professional retaliation against Al Fassi in response to her exercise of the rights of academic freedom, free expression, and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ESW calls for letters, emails, and faxes respectfully urging officials at Qatar University to investigate the situation and to ensure Al Fassi safety and security at all time.


Please make appeals to the following:


Dr. Hassan Al-Derham

Address: 2713،, Al Hala St,

Doha, Qatar

Phone: +974 4403 3333

Fax: +974 4403-4444

Email: president@qu.edu.qa


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