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Germany dismisses undersecretary who ordered investigation into academics for pro-Palestinian support

June 17, 2024 at 9:53 am

A dozen pro-Palestinian students are taking over several classrooms in a Bonn University building in Bonn, Germany, on June 12, 2024 [Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

German authorities have dismissed an undersecretary who started an investigation into whether financial support for academics who defended students protesting Israel’s attacks on Gaza should be cut, Anadolu news agency reported.

Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger announced Sunday the dismissal of Sabina Doring, the undersecretary responsible for higher education.

Underlining that initiating an investigation to cut financial support for academics contradicts the principles of academic freedom, Watzinger said: “In May of this year, a group of university lecturers wrote an open letter regarding the protest camps at universities. This is a legitimate part of debate and freedom of thought. Having a different opinion is equally natural,” she said.

Watzinger affirmed there is no doubt about the high value of academic freedom and its rightful protection under constitutional law.

“I defend academic freedom in all its aspects. Funding for science is based on scientific criteria, not political ideology. This is a fundamental principle of academic freedom,” she said.

READ: Over 2,000 academics demand resignation of German Education Minister over repression