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Belfast university Charlie Hebdo conference WILL go ahead

Victory for academic freedom as cancelled symposium is reinstated

Queen's University Belfast has confirmed that a symposium on Charlie Hebdo and citizenship will now go ahead in June.

The university faced a wave of criticism after Little Atoms first reported that Vice Chancellor Patrick Johnston had cancelled the conference, citing potential reputational damage and security risks.

In a statement released today, Queen's University said:

“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.”

The conference, titled Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, will now be hosted by Queen's Univeristy's Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities on 4-5 June.

Jo Glanville, director of free speech advocacy group English PEN, welcomed Queen's University's decision, telling Little Atoms: "It’s very good news that the conference is now going ahead. We need as much opportunity for debate as possible at a time when the ability to exercise the right to freedom of expression remains highly vulnerable."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said: “The decision by Queen's to give the go-ahead to the Charlie Hebdo event is clearly the right one. The original decision by the university to cancel the event generated significant public outcry, because people care passionately about this issue.

Speaking to Little Atoms after the cancellation on 20 April, one of the participants, Brian Klug, praised the institute, saying: "The faculty members who took the initiative to convene the conference set an excellent example of how academia should respond to complex conflicts in the public sphere."


In the particle of me that cares for this, I betrayed those little atoms with a kiss

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