German Authorities Remove Education Undersecretary Over Pro-Palestine Sanctions

(TNS) —
Demonstrators chant slogans against Berlin’s support for Israel in the Gaza war during a protest past the German Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, April 23. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

German authorities have dismissed Sabine Doring, the undersecretary responsible for higher education, for attempting to impose financial sanctions on academics supporting students protesting against Israel’s attacks against Hamas in Gaza.

The decision, announced on Sunday, follows days of pressure on Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger from thousands of academics.

“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,” Stark-Watzinger said.

She affirmed that academic freedom was protected under constitutional law, adding, “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.”

Stark-Watzinger had faced intense criticism and calls for her resignation after media reports revealed that her office launched a legal review to explore sanctions against academics who supported protesting students, including the potential revocation of their funding.

“Academics in Germany are experiencing an unprecedented attack on their fundamental rights, on the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law,” more than 2,000 scholars said in an open letter on Friday.

The letter added: “Regardless of whether we agree with the specific demands of the protest camp, we stand up for our students, and defend their right to peaceful protest, which also includes the occupation of university grounds.”

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