After Antonine University Conference: "The Powers of Lebanese Prime Ministers in Lebanon: The Difficulties and The Future", UCIP Media Observatory in Lebanon Stresses the Importance of Keeping the Critical Spirit in Universities
The Media Observatory of the International Catholic Union of the Press in Lebanon (UCIP-Lebanon) took stock of the circumstances surrounding the opening of Antonine University Conference last week (11-12 February 2010). The Observatory considered that what happened was an infringement of academic freedoms as well as the freedom of opinion. It tarnished the image of Lebanon, a democratic country that guarantees public and private freedoms.
In this context, UCIP issued the following statement:
– The Union is surprised at all this furor caused by the intervention about corruption in Lebanon, especially that the conference aim was to tackle this problem which has been rotting the Lebanese system since dozens of years. Lebanese citizens are overwhelmed with corruption and this situation must end
– The violent backlash took its toll on all concerned parties and constituted an infringement of academic freedoms in Lebanon. It would have been better if the stakeholders tried to limit the damage and explain the misunderstanding.
– Universities are par excellence an intellectual forum, a breeding ground for critical spirit that can fill the void left by the inaction of media institutions in this respect. In fact, these institutions suffer from many political, promotional and financial pressures. Therefore, we must protect universities from these kinds of pressures so that they continue to champion critical spirit, contributing to the development of Lebanon.
– This incident raises the subject of "sponsorship" which is the number one cultural, scientific and social phenomenon in Lebanon. After what happened in Antonine University, we must ask ourselves about the real causes and aims of such sponsorships as well as the benefits they offer to universities and societies as well. In such context, what breathing space is left for universities?
– The subject raised by the conference of Antonine University which was unfortunately suspended must continue to be on top of reform agendas. Indeed, many political, financial and social problems in Lebanon are nothing but the repercussions of corruption.
Translated by: Marie-Lou Nicolas