Queen's University Belfast "to go ahead with Charlie Hebdo conference after outcry"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Guardian (Henry McDonald) reports:

Queen's University Belfast has reversed its earlier decision to cancel a conference on the Charlie Hebdo massacre on security grounds….

A spokesperson for QUB's communications office said on Friday: "Following the completion of a comprehensive risk assessment, undertaken in line with approved protocols, the university is pleased to confirm that the Charlie Hebdo Research Symposium, organised by the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, has been approved."

Academics at the college disputed the university authorities' claim that the gathering was cancelled because its organisers had not properly filled in a risk assessment form….

The institute claimed that the university's vice-chancellor, Patrick Johnston, had cancelled the event because of the security risk and also out of concern for the university's reputation. A number of Belfast-based writers claimed the college was worried about deterring prospective students and jeopardising potential investment from parts of the Islamic world, especially the oil-rich Gulf states….

Ulster Unionist party leader and former television journalist Mike Nesbitt welcomed QUB's U-turn on the conference. "It is important that an organisation which enjoys such international renown as Queen's should be seen to stand up for the promotion of freedom of speech, a key component of any democracy," he said. "I also welcome the fact that Queen's has shown the corporate courage to tackle sensitive and controversial and potentially divisive issues."

Thanks to Media Law Resource Center's MediaLawDaily for the pointer.