MESA Academic Freedom Award
MESA is pleased to announce the presentation of this year's Academic Freedom Award to Dr. Matrouk Al-Faleh, professor of political science at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for his courageous advocacy of democratic rights and civil liberties in Saudi Arabia and his principled commitment to the exercise of free speech and the free exchange of information and ideas, and in recognition of the resistance he and others have displayed in the face of harassment and attempts at intimidation from the government of Saudi Arabia.
Professor Al-Faleh was arrested in his university office in March 2004, and has since that time not been allowed to resume his academic duties. He is currently on trial in Riyadh, charged with advocating changes in Saudi Arabia’s system of government. In fact, Professor Al-Faleh has spoken out responsibly in favor of political reform, and he has organized petitions that peacefully advocate parliamentary elections and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and related reform measures.
Professor Al-Faleh is now unable to teach. He is on trial, along with two others among those arrested in March, because they refused to agree to a government demand that they cease exercising their right to peacefully criticize their government and to exercise their freedom of speech.
MESA salutes Professor Al-Faleh for his courageous and principled stance. He and his colleagues have made a brave stand in favor of freedom of speech and academic freedom, and they deserve our support and our admiration. MESA also renews its call to the government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect the fundamental right of freedom of expression and academic freedom.