Risk factor behind cancellation of Queen’s event on Charlie Hebdo

Risk assessment not carried out for symposium on satirical French newspaper, says university

A conference about the satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo that was set to take place at Queen’s University Belfast was cancelled because a risk assessment for the event was not carried out, the university has said.

The conference, Understanding Charlie: New Perspectives on Contemporary Citizenship after Charlie Hebdo Symposium was due to take place on June 4th and 5th.

In a statement, the university said: “As part of managing the health and safety of the institution, it is a requirement for all major events to have a full risk assessment completed prior to them going ahead on the campus.

“Unfortunately the proposed symposium organised by the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities did not have a completed risk assessment, and as a result the institute has cancelled the event.


‘Academic freedom’

“This issue is not related to academic freedom, and Queen’s continues to uphold the importance of academic freedom in a world-class institution and has demonstrated this over many years,” read the statement.

Jason Walsh, a journalist and academic who was due to speak at the conference, said he received an email on Monday which said the event was cancelled on the grounds of a “security risk”.

Two brothers forced their way into the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January and opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding 11 others.

A policeman was killed as the men, who identified themselves as members of al-Qaida’s Yemeni branch, left the building.

The publication has been noted for its irreverent tone and for following a secularist, anti-religious and left-wing agenda that has mocked the Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faiths, and other world views.

Separately, a conference entitled After Charlie Hebdo: Complex Media Cultures and the Limits of Liberalism will take place at Maynooth University next week on April 29th.