Arrest of university professor sparks protest in Iraq

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By Adel Kadhem

Azzaman, May 6, 2012

The arrest of a Baghdad University’s economics professor has led to protests from both students and legislators in Iraq.

Professor Mohammed Taqa was arrested within the Baghdad University campus, an action seen by Iraqi intelligentsia as “an affront to academia and scientific research.”

Taqa is also dean of Baghdad University’s Faculty of Economic Sciences and his arrest is reported to have sent the wrong signal to Iraqi academics abroad who were planning to return home.

Faculty students have been demonstrating against the arrest of their professor and dean and several members of the Iraqi parliament have asked the government for his immediate release.

No reasons are given for the arrest and  the security forces who stormed his office are declining comment.

“The arrest of professor Taqa is a slap in the face of our efforts to persuade academics who fled the country to return home,” said Abdudhiyab al-Ujaili, head of the Higher Education Commission at the Iraqi parliament.

He said the arrest was made without coordination with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

“There was even no warrant or order by the judicial authorities to carry out the arrest,” Ujaili added.

Iraqi security forces are not allowed to enter university campuses without prior approval and arrests are not legally allowed without a warrant.

“We ask the government to set Professor Taqa free immediately, offer an apology and hold those carrying out the arrest accountable,” said Ujaili.