NEW YORK – The journalism department at New York University told the school it was cutting its ties to NYU's Abu Dhabi campus over two professors being denied work visas by the United Arab Emirates, as well as the school's handling of the situation.
The majority of senior faculty at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute sent a letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton saying they were dismayed that journalism professor Mohamad Bazzi and Middle East politics professor Arang Keshavarzian had been denied visas. Bazzi wrote about his experience in The New York Times in September, saying officials in the U.A.E. haven't given a reason for his visa denial.
The Nov. 2 letter said that while they "have the utmost respect for our faculty colleagues and students at NYU Abu Dhabi," that "since a member of our faculty has been prohibited from teaching at NYU Abu Dhabi, the Carter Journalism Institute is not prepared to continue its relationship with NYUAD."
The letter said while no reason for the denial had been given, if it was because of religious reasons, over both professors being of Shiite Muslim origin or because of their writing and research, "it would represent a significant threat to academic freedom on that campus." The U.A.E. is majority Sunni Muslim.
They also said they were disappointed in Hamilton's handling of the situation, with his not speaking out publicly about the situation.
NYU spokesman Matt Nagel said the school shared faculty concerns over the visas being denied, but "that refraining from participating in the academic life of NYU Abu Dhabi misses the mark. Doing so only punishes our fellow students and faculty at NYUAD, who had no hand in the visa denials. Moreover, we believe that the presence of NYU in Abu Dhabi contributes to the diversity of ideas there, and that the NYUAD project should be a source of pride to the University."