Thousands of Scholars Protest against Trump’s Travel Ban by Boycotting Academic Conferences

After judges refused to reinstate his travel and immigration ban, Donald Trump is reportedly set to revise his initial executive order. The revised order will still impose temporary travel restrictions on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya. But it will exempt US green-card holders from temporary travel ban. Trump’s decision to tweak his original executive order, however, will not prevent the scholars and intellectuals to fight the travel ban.

More than 4000 scholars decided to protest against Trump’s executive order by boycotting academic conferences to be held in the United States. A petition circulating in the websphere carries signatures of thousands of academicians and faculty members from many countries. The petition states that the executive order blocks free communication of ideas by not allowing citizens from certain countries to attend international academic conferences. Also, executive order prevents participants from these Muslim-majority countries from attending international academic conferences held in the United States.

According to the online petition, “The order institutionalises racism, and fosters an environment in which people racialised as Muslim are vulnerable to ongoing and intensifying acts of violence and hatred.”  It further adds, “Among those affected by the Order are academics and students who are unable to participate in conferences and the free communication of ideas. We the undersigned take action in solidarity with those affected by Trump’s Executive Order by pledging not to attend international conferences in the US while the ban persists. We question the intellectual integrity of these spaces and the dialogues they are designed to encourage while Muslim colleagues are explicitly excluded from them.

A large number of students, scholars, researchers, and professional attend academic conferences regularly to discuss a variety of trending topics in detail. Many participants even register for international academic conference in much advance to meet and interact with renowned speakers and scholars. Hence, the scholars’ decision to boycott academic conferences will diminish the quality of discussions and keynote speeches at international academic conferences. Many analysts believe that the petition damages the integrity of American education system. However, many scholars believe that they cannot protect the executive order successfully simply by withdrawing from academic conferences.

 The opinion of the academic community is currently appears divided. But the online petition carries signatures of scholars from many countries. There are always chances that many scholars may boycott the international conferences despite living outside the United States. Hence, it becomes essential for participants to recheck all information pertaining to an international academic conference before planning their trips. The participants can further consider attending international conferences being organized in other countries to overcome the impact of thousands of scholars boycotting academic conferences in the United States.