A prominent Palestinian professor who wrote an article criticizing the university administration where he works was arrested on Thursday by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources said that Abdel Sattar Qassem, who works at An-Najah University in Nablus, was ordered to be held in custody for 48 hours following a complaint from the university president, Rami Hamdallah.

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Qassem is a well-known critic of the PA leadership. In the past he declared his intention to run in the presidential election in the Palestinian territories.

Because of his public criticism of the PA, Qassem was targeted in the past by PA security forces. At one point he was shot and wounded shortly after launching a scathing verbal attack on PA chairman Yasser Arafat.

Qassem’s son, Faisal, said that the PA Prosecutor-General’s Office phoned his father on Wednesday night and asked him to report for questioning the following day.

The son said that when Qassem arrived at the offices of the PA security forces in Nablus, he was informed of the decision to detain him for 48 hours for allegedly slandering the university by publishing a critical article.

In the article, Qassem criticized the university administration for refusing to comply with a court order rescinding its decision to expel four students.

“The university administration refused to carry out the court order although its president, who is also a member of the Palestinian central election committee, knows the importance of respecting the law,” he wrote. “This refusal [to comply with the court order] harms the university and its reputation.”


Qassem said that the problem was not only with this case, which has been ongoing, “but with the people who see the corruption and don’t do anything. Many officials see themselves as being above the law and justice. Perhaps they want to appoint themselves as gods or emperors, as they see that the educated are keeping silent and the youth movement is largely absent.”

Qassem, a professor of political science, announced in November 2004 that he would run for the presidency of the PA. Three months later he was arrested by PA security forces.

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