Freedom of Expression

Senior Vice President Mishka Mourani, We are writing to you on behalf of the undersigned to express our sincere concern that has been brought about from reading a recent news article titled: ‘High School drops novels after parents complaints’ found on the website ‘Nowlebanon.com’. The article exposes a serious issue of censorship and expurgation; compromising a freedom of expression and principles of education that are fundamental to the success of any schooling institute. The article claims that due to several parental complaints our former alma mater, International College, has made the decision to drop the books ‘Song of Solomon’ by Toni Morrison and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margret Atwood. Such prestigious titles have earned countless literary prizes including the most notable: The Nobel Prize in Literature. As a result, we find this decision puzzling because it seems paradoxical that a Nobel Prize winning piece of literature has been deemed ‘unfit and inappropriate’ to be taught to young adults at a critical stage in their development. Surrounded by the culture of the Lebanese nightlife as well as the limitless opportunities available on the internet and elsewhere, it is naïve to believe that banning educational books for their ‘sexual content’ is a progressive step towards addressing the problem. Banning these educational novels on the basis of sexual content is, therefore, counterproductive on the basis that it is far more advantageous to create an atmosphere for understanding and personal growth when addressing sexual issues under the supervision and guidance of IC’s remarkable educators rather than rely on social context where the mistakes in ideology cannot be addressed within an atmosphere designed for learning. It is our firm belief and understanding that International College is a school that stands for educational freedom and opportunity. Any move to restrict that freedom, therefore, should be avoided for the sake of the educational standard and reputation of the prestigious academic institute that we all love. Our experience at IC paved the way for our academic success at the University level, and such success was only possible through the freedom to discuss, debate, and understand the literary significance of controversial works that exposed us to sensitive issues such as culture, race, gender, and sexuality in an effort to simulate awareness and change. Having read Song of Solomon, and other books of its ilk ourselves, we are aware of the crucial literary implication of this novel and how it is has impacted and contributed to the improvement of our understanding of literature. Consequently, we know firsthand that one should never underestimate the impact of the study of a literary piece on an individual willing to absorb knowledge. In preserving the educational standards for which our academic institute stands, and for the promotion of student success both inside and outside the classroom, we strongly believe that there remains no compelling reason why these books should not be taught at International College, a school that for many years has stood at the pinnacle of academic success for students. We hope this letter reminds those who wish to remove these books of the importance of remaining at the forefront of educational opportunities in Lebanon and of the precedent such a censorship may set if this ruling is allowed to stand. We also hope that this letter reminds those responsible for this decision that a vocal minority does not necessarily represent the feelings of the majority, therefore we urge those responsible for this decision to reconsider this ruling in an attempt to preserve the fundamental principles for which this prestigious institute was built. Respectfully Submitted, Mohamed Raouda Class of 2007 Malek Abu Jawdeh Class of 2007 Please note that we have made this effort because of the firm belief we have that the open and uninhibited education we received in our IC years were critical in our development and find that ignorance is much more of a hindrance than awareness of such issues

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