American University of Beirut and its students react to US fine

Tarek Ali Ahmad

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The American University of Beirut (AUB) paid a $700,000 settlement last week to the United States, over accusations it assisted two media entities linked to Lebanese political party and militant group Hezbollah.

The university was said to have admitted and trained representatives of Al Nour Radio and Al Manar TV – both media groups linked to Hezbollah, as stated by the US Treasury Department.

From 2007 to 2009, AUB provided training in workshops to representatives from al Nour and al Manar, who were allowed to participate among a larger group of journalists, a statement from the US Attorney’s Office said.

One workshop was entitled “Citizen/Online Journalism” and provided instruction on how to produce blogs, videos and podcasts, prosecutors said. But the university insists its actions were neither “knowing, intentional or reckless.”

“We remain as committed as ever to fulfill our mission by educating a diverse community of scholars in the pursuit of excellence, irrespective of race, creed, religion, national origin, or any other differentiator,” an AUB statement read.

“This is outrageous oppression,” one AUB student wrote on a Facebook group that links all the students together.

“As a university whose sole purpose is to educate students, both of local and foreign nationalities, I found it absurd that it would be held accountable for educating students of a certain political affiliation,” a medical student at AUB who did not want to reveal his name told Al Arabiya English.

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