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.
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.