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University Hebdo event to go ahead

Published 01/05/2015

A symposium at Queen's University in Belfast about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris will now go ahead following a risk assessment
A symposium at Queen's University in Belfast about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris will now go ahead following a risk assessment

A Northern Ireland university criticised for cancelling a conference on the Charlie Hebdo murders has announced that the event will now go ahead.

Queen's University in Belfast will host a symposium in June on the fallout from the massacre at the satirical magazine in Paris and its implications for free speech.

A furore erupted last week when delegates and speakers were told it had been scrapped.

They claimed they were informed that the university's authorities had axed the event over concerns about security and Queen's reputation.

After a period without commenting on the reasons for cancellation, Queen's released a statement saying that it was because a risk assessment had not been completed.

The university insisted the issue was not related to "academic freedom".

The next day the institution released a further statement announcing that a risk assessment would be undertaken.

Today, the university announced that the exercise had been completed and the event would now go ahead.

"Following the completion of a comprehensive risk assessment, undertaken in line with approved protocols, the university is pleased to confirm that the Charlie Hebdo Research Symposium, organised by the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, has been approved," said a spokeswoman.

Twelve people were killed when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi opened fire at the Paris magazine's offices in January.

Five others died in the city in related attacks over the following two days.

Max Silverman, professor of Modern French Studies at the University of Leeds, is due to speak at the event.

The academic, who had been critical of the original decision to cancel, welcomed the change of stance.

"I am delighted that Queen's has given the go-ahead to a symposium on the Charlie Hebdo affair in Paris," he said.

"It is important that events like this are discussed openly and also that universities maintain the principle of freedom of speech as far as possible."

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