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Academics fear backlash over critical Islam research

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ZEIST – Historians who document the story of Islam or the Koran increasingly do so anonymously. They fear publishing their findings under their own name, especially if their writings contain critical elements. Retired professor Pieter van der Horst, who was at the centre of a controversy in 2006 over quotes in his farewell lecture, finds it a disconcerting development. In his lecture, he examined the myth of Jewish cannibalism propagated by many in the Arab world. Van der Horst’s rector ordered him to change the wording, generating a heated debate about academic freedom. He says he never felt that his safety was threatened, but regrets the push for political correctness. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has formulated protocols to avoid future controversies.