Graphic by Mariko Kuroda/The Gazelle

Breaking News: NYUAD Fake News

On Nov. 4, several Arabic-language news sources falsely reported that NYU had cut ties with NYU Abu Dhabi. The reports appeared in HuffPost Arabi, Al Jazeera and Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The news also circulated on the iPhone news application Nabd Pulse, and on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Similar reports followed in English later on the same day.
The alleged split between NYU and NYUAD supposedly resulted from the reputational harm done to the university by its Abu Dhabi campus. The reports referred to the UAE visa denials to NYU faculty members, which effectively prevented them from teaching at NYUAD and NYUAD’s compliance with the UAE government’s decision.
The false reports shortly followed a letter signed by a majority of senior members of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, addressed to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. The letter, dated Nov. 2, stated that “the Carter Journalism Institute is not prepared to continue its relationship with NYUAD” and referenced the UAE government’s recent denial of visas to NYU professors.
Professors Bazzi and Keshavarzian believed that their religious affiliation as Shiite Muslims and potentially their academic work contributed to their inability to acquire visas to teach at NYUAD. While this letter is a clear indication of disapproval with NYU’s handling of these visa denials, it is only the statement of the Carter Institute, not of NYU or its faculty as a whole. Had a faculty member wished to continue cooperation with NYUAD, acknowledged Ted Conover, the Director of the Journalism Institute, she cannot be prevented from doing so.
The false reports make mention of Bazzi’s and Keshavarzian’s visa denials, as well as the self-reported sectarian motivations behind them, but they fail to make the distinction between the university as a whole and a statement issued by the faculty of one of NYU’s schools.
The English-language report, despite acknowledging the statement is solely an initiative of NYU’s Journalism Institute, sensationalized the implications of the letter.
In the past, Al Jazeera, especially its Arabic language news arm reporting on events in the Middle East, has been accused of purposely manipulating news in line with Qatari foreign policy.
Within a few hours from the moment misleading articles appeared on the internet, an NYUAD student shared the news with the student body and notified NYUAD’s Office of Public Affairs. At the time of publication, NYUAD had not yet responded to the manipulated news. For NYU’s response, the student was referred to the letter by NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton to the faculty of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies published on Oct. 20.
Karolina Wilczyńska is Managing Editor. Jocilyn Estes is Senior Opinion Editor. Email them at
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