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Bilal Exhibition Suspended Pending Review

March 6, 2008

After becoming aware of and discussing concerns expressed by some members of the Rensselaer community about a lecture and associated exhibit by digital media artist Wafaa Bilal, the university decided to allow his March 5 lecture to go forward. Most observers agreed that he presented a stimulating and thought-provoking lecture.

We are pleased to have Wafaa Bilal among us to contribute to the intellectual and artistic life of the Institute, and we look forward to his continued presence in our classrooms and studios as a visiting artist.

During the unveiling of the artist’s video game exhibition, “Virtual Jihadi,” important concerns surfaced that the work may be based on a product of Al Qaeda, and questions were raised regarding its legality and its consistency with the norms and policies of the Institute. The university is considering various factors relating to the exhibition, and has suspended it pending a more complete review of its origin, content, and intent.

Rensselaer fully supports academic and artistic freedom. The question under review regards the use of university resources to provide a platform for what may be a product of a terrorist organization or which suggests violence directed toward the President of the United States and his family.

William N. Walker
Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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