Steven Salaita in Solidarity with Justice4Sanaz

Renowned American Indian studies professor, Dr. Steven Salaita has written a statement of solidarity with the Justice4Sanaz campaign. Salaita, the former University of Illinois lecturer who was fired over tweets he made concerning Israeli aggression in Gaza during the summer of 2014 Operation Protective Edge, where between 2,142 and 2,310 Gazans were killed and between 10,626 and 10,895  were wounded including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were left permanently disabled.

Salaita’s case and year-long campaign, which included an academic boycott of over 1,200 scholars against the University of Illinois, showed the interplay between academic freedom, employment discrimination, and how intertwined pro-Zionist donors are within the US higher education structure that actively seek to limit and censor activists and scholars who are against Zionist settler colonialism.

It was later revealed during a FOI investigation that top officials tied to the University of Illinois had colluded to cover-up information concerning the reasons for Dr. Salaita’s termination. Additionally, one administrator had even destroyed what might be key evidence pertaining to the Salaita case. This, of course, is very familiar territory for the Justice4Sanaz campaign given our own FOI investigation in June 2014, which we found University of Leeds staff parading around racist, ableist and xenophobic language against Sanaz in e-mail correspondences of her supervisors and various members of the School of Media and Communication (formerly the Institute of Communications Studies) University of Leeds.

The Justice4Sanaz campaign reached out to Dr. Salaita over the summer 2015 and upon learning of Sanaz’s fight against the University of Leeds, he wrote:

“The indignities and injustices Sanaz Raji faced while at the University of Leeds exemplify the problems with racist societies, managerial callousness, and notions of immigrant expendability.  Because of her refusal to accommodate those problems, we have a stunning, though not altogether surprising, account of the ugliness that often underlies university bureaucracy.  This is a transatlantic problem, one that demands the sort of emphasis on class, gender, racial, and sexual justice that the campaign in support of Sanaz has so ably practiced.” 

Dr. Salaita joins 46 other prominent activists and academics who have come in solidarity with the the Justice4Sanaz campaign, which include:

  1. Baroness Haleh Afshar, Professor Emeritus, University of York
  2. Prof. Roger Bromley, Professor Emeritus of Culture Studies, University of Nottingham
  3. Dr. Tina Gharavi, Newcastle University & BAFTA nominated director for I am Nasrine
  4. Prof. Dagmar Schultz, Activist and Filmmaker, director of Audre Lorde, The Berlin Years, 1984 to 1992
  5. Dr. Yasmin Nair, Writer and Activist
  6. Prof. Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature Columbia University
  7. Prof. Pedram Khosronejad, Farzaneh Family Scholar and Associate Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at the School of International Studies of Oklahoma State University
  8. Dr. Anandi Ramamurthy, Sheffield Hallam University
  9. Ananya Rao-Middleton, MPhil Candidate, University of Cambridge
  10. Gwyneth Lonergan, PhD Candidate, University of Manchester
  11. Sonia Soans, PhD Candidate, Manchester Metropolitan University
  12. Steve Graby, PhD Student, University of Leeds
  13. Anzir Boodoo, Independent Scholar
  14. Marina Yusupova, PhD Student, University of Manchester
  15. Corine Dhondee, Independent Filmmaker and Activist
  16. Dr. Adi Kuntsman, Manchester Metropolitan University
  17. Dr. Say Burgin, University of Leeds
  18. Dr. Jennifer deWinter, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  19. Hamja Ahsan, Human Rights Activist
  20. Mark Boothroyd, Activist, Docs Not Cops Campaign
  21. Prof. Ian Parker, University of Leicester
  22. Haley McEwen, PhD student, University of the Witwatersrand
  23. Prof. Golbarg Bashi, Pace University
  24. Dr. Fuad Ali, University of Greenwich
  25. Dr. Onur Suzan Nobrega, Fellow of the ZEIT-Stiftung Hamburg
  26. Dr. Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Exeter
  27. Dr. Karma Chavez, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  28. Dr. Mahnaz Marashi, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  29. Dr. Anat Greenstein, Manchester Metropolitan University
  30. Dr. Katya Salmi, Independent Scholar
  31. Prof. Kevin Hylton, Leeds Becket University
  32. Marie Garlock, PhD Student, University of North Carolina
  33. Dr. Sima Shakshari, University of Pennsylvania
  34. Beeta Baghoolizadeh, PhD Student, University of Pennsylvania
  35. Naz Massoumi, PhD Student, University of Bristol
  36. Dr. Christine Chettle, Independent Scholar
  37. Antonia Bright, Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary
  38. Dr. Feras Alkabani, University of Sussex
  39. Dr. Waqas Tufail, Leeds Beckett University
  40. Dr. Federica Mazzara, Westminster University
  41. Prof. Yahya Kamalipour, North Carolina A&T State University
  42. Trenton Oldfied, Activist, This Is Not A Gateway
  43. Hilary Aked, PhD Student, University of Bath
  44. Dr. Donya Alinejad, VU University Amsterdam
  45. Ewa Jasiewicz, Activist
  46. Chaumtoli Huq, human rights lawyer, a former Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School, former general counsel for New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Director of the first South Asian Workers’ Rights Project in the country at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the first staff attorney to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.


We thank Dr. Salaita for his solidarity. To learn more about the Salaita case, we encourage our supporters to purchase his book concerning the events and activism surrounding his termination by the University of Illinois, entitled Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.


About justice4sanaz

For 3 years, Sanaz Raji, a non-EU international student from the United States, has waged a fearless and brave fight against institutional aggression, bullying, and racism from the School of Media and Communication (formerly the Institution of Communications Studies) University of Leeds. The School of Media and Communication took away Sanaz's scholarship in August 2011, only 2 weeks before the start of her third year into her PhD studies. The School of Media and Communication breached their own procedures and rules concerning evaluating student progress. By taking away Sanaz's scholarship, the School of Media and Communication prevented her from continuing her studies in addition to having a decent standard of living with food and shelter that all students expect as a human right. In waging her battle for equal rights for non-EU international students, Sanaz was evicted from her university accommodation in May 2014, threatened with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) and now fighting against deportation. All non-EU international students should have the right to challenge their universities for their failings without the threat of harassment or deportation. Justice4Sanaz is a movement to redress the failure of the student movement to discuss the myriad of ways that non-EU students, especially those who are people of color, are silenced, bullied and threatened within the neoliberal British university system.
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