Academic freedom in danger, according to Danish researchers

In Denmark, there is no talk of “Islamo-leftism”. But the debate that is currently shaking the Scandinavian country largely echoes the one that French higher education minister Frédérique Vidal launched in February.

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To the point even that his words on “What is academic research and what is activism and opinion” are frequently echoed by those who feel that Danish universities do not distinguish sufficiently.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Frédérique Vidal, a minister of higher education in turmoil

In an open letter, addressed to their minister in charge, the social democrat Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, and published Monday, June 7 in the daily Politics, 262 Danish researchers, specializing in gender studies and migration studies, are protesting to see each other “Intimidated and harassed, at a level leading some to go on sick leave”. At issue: the suspicions weighing on their work, qualified as « pseudoscience » and of “Identity leftism” by right-wing and far-right politicians.

On May 28, a majority of deputies voted for a motion which, recalling the importance of “Academic self-regulation”, calls on universities to ensure that “Politics does not disguise itself as science”. In their forum, the researchers mention Frédérique Vidal, whose words have, according to them, served as “Direct model” to Danish politicians, whom they accuse of endangering academic freedom in the kingdom.

“The attacks have intensified”

Discussions are not “Not new”, recognizes Mathias Danbolt, professor of art history at the University of Copenhagen and one of the authors of the forum. But he assures us that “The attacks have intensified”, these last months. Not only “Well-established researchers, but also young people or doctoral students are specifically targeted”, but the attacks target “Particular fields of study, in an attempt to delegitimize entire fields of research”.

At the end of March, MEPs Morten Messerschmidt, from the Danish People’s Party (far right), and Henrik Dahl (Liberal Alliance) launched a discussion in Parliament on the “Excessive activism in certain research circles”. In a written question to the minister, the two parliamentarians ask if it is not time to “Carry out an action similar to the showdown announced by the French government and launch a study of the problem, like the one put in place [en France] ».

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