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Online course on Muslim world hit by US sanctions

University of Copenhagen Professor says sanctions policy is 'bone-headed' as his Coursera course is blocked from his students in Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba

Students in Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba can no longer access the online course of a University of Copenhagen law professor.

They may no longer access the online course ‘Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World’ after it has been taken off Coursera in accordance with the US application of sanctions on these countries.

Ebrahim Afsah, who teaches the course, is himself from Iran, and is an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Law.

See also a positive review of this course by an Indian student here.

Professor: It is short-sighted, chauvinistic

Coursera, based in the U.S. is one of the largest companies of its type and offers open free lecture courses to 6 million registered students around the world, growing in size since its launch in 2012.

Students have been notified that their education is now regarded as a “service” and violated the terms in which the US trades with these countries.

In an email to students on The Education Forum Professor Ebrahim Afsah says that “few things illustrate the bone-headedness, short-sightedness, and sheer chauvinism of the political structure of the United States better than the extent to which its ideologues are willing to go to score cheap domestic political points with narrow interests in the pursuit of a sanctions regime that has clearly run its course.”

No reflection on the University of Copenhagen’s values

Afsah who was born in Iran, and educated in Germany and England, asks students to “ponder whether this course is indeed a weapon and if so against what and what possible benefit the average American citizen could possibly derive from restricting access to it”.

A statement made by Coursera states that “with deep regret that we have had to make a change to our accessibility in some countries” and that they are working to “secure permissions to reinstate site access for students in sanctioned countries“.

Afsah writes in the e-mail that the course “is exactly the type of thing that needs to be done in the Middle East if we want to get past the current impasse”, designed to encourage debate between students and is vital in the development of free speech and free trade. “Rest assured that these are not the values of the University of Copenhagen, of its Faculty of Law, and most assuredly not mine!” and “I am appalled at this decision” says Afsah.

Professor Afsah has so far not been able to comment to the University Post.

Link to Coursera statement here.

Read article on here.

See his Youtube introduction to his course here.

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