University professors concerned about academic freedom restrictions on Maâti Monjib

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Dina EL KHAWAGA
Dina EL KHAWAGA a signé la pétition

University professors concerned about academic freedom restrictions on Maâti Monjib

On April 22, 2019, historian Maâti Monjib went on a 48-hour hunger strike. A professor and researcher at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, he is threatened with dismissal from the university and from the civil service, after having agreed to participate, as rapporteur, in Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi’s professorial thesis defense (HDR) on February 13, 2019, at the École normale supérieure (ENS) in Paris.

Four years earlier, Maâti Monjib led a 24-day hunger strike, to defend his freedom of movement because he was banned from traveling by decision of the Government. Following many interviews with international media and the organization of training sessions in the field of citizen journalism, he was prosecuted along with six other people for “threatening the internal security of the State.” The trial is still ongoing and Maâti Monjib is the subject of incessant state press campaigns of defamation and moral harassment in his workplace.

Today, Pr. Monjib risks being sacked by the administration of the Ministry of Higher Education, because of his participation, last February, at an academic event abroad.

Invited to be part of the defense committee of Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi, he promptly notified the administration and produced all the required documents, including the official invitation to the event at the ENS.

‏ Shortly after his return to Rabat, he received several “requests for clarification” from the administration for being absent for a few days to participate in this academic event. Each time, he responded by physically submitting his written answers to the Institute’s administration, as further proof of his continuous presence at his workplace.

‏ However, his supervisory ministry has initiated proceedings against him for “abandonment” of his position for about two months, which is totally false and politically motivated. Because his participation in the academic event in Paris took place from the 12th to the 15th of February. And during these very two months he taught his students and participated in institutional activities of his institute of affiliation. His signatures in presence lists and his students’ signatures in the presence list his course are a proof of his presence and his academic work. By requiring him to sign a “return to work” form within a seven-day deadline, the administration of the Ministry has given Pr. Monjib an unfair choice: recognizing false accusations or being dismissed from public service.

‏ Pr. Monjib has filed an official record stating that he had not abandoned his position. He also received the formal and written support and testimonies of 19 of his colleagues at the Institute of African Studies. This testimony states that Pr. Monjib has been present normally and regularly carried out his duties at his workplace during the last two months.  All the members of the HDR jury also attest that he fully fulfilled his duties on the defense committee.

‏The University prides itself on its website on promoting international academic cooperation and professors’ mobility. It is paradoxical to absurdly sanction Professor Maâti Monjib while he represented his University at a prestigious institution. As university professors, we express our deep concern about this restriction on academic freedom.

The first signatories

·      Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi, Université Lausanne, Switzerland

·      Amin Allal, CNRS-IRMC, Tunisie

·      Riccardo Bocco, The Graduate Institute, Switzerland

·      Michel Camau, Institut d'études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, France

·      Isabel Maria Casimiro, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

·      John Chalcraft, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom

·      Thierry Desrues, IESA-CSIC, Spain

·      Dina El Khawaga, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

·      Olivier Fillieule, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland

·      Abdellah Hammoudi, Princeton University, United States

·      Peter Hudis, Oakton Community College, United States

·      Omar Iharchane, Université Cadi Ayyad, Morocco

·      Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town, South Africa

·      Ousmane Kane, Harvard University, United States

·      Bernabé López García, Université Autónoma, Spain

·      Michael Löwy, CNRS, France

·      Michel Offerlé, École normale supérieure de Paris, France 

·      Hassan Rachik, Université Hassan II, Morocco

·      Johanna Siméant-Germanos, École normale supérieure de Paris, France 

·      David Stenner, Christopher Newport University, United States

·      Pierre Vermeren, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France

·      Ann Marie Wainscott, Miami University, United States 

·      John Waterbury, American University of Beirut, Lebanon