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Special Reports

Many African universities swept up in Islamic extremism

African higher education systems have become casualties of war, caught in the crossfire of Islamic fundamentalism that cuts across the spectrum of religious and political thought, according to Professor Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. In a policy brief titled “Houses of Wisdom Matter: The responsibility to protect and rebuild higher education in the Arab world”, Barakat and co-author Dr Sansom Milton – a research fellow at the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit of the University of York in the UK – write that many African universities have not escaped conflicts spawned in the Arab world and propelled by radical Islam. “Deadly clampdowns on student protests and sporadic closure of universities have occurred in North African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” writes Barakat, who is also founding chair of the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit at York. This has always not been the case.

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