We will not arrest students even if they held event on Osama: Christopher to Naidu

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was left embarrassed on Wednesday, after Princeton University President Christopher L Eisgrube said that University authority would have no objection if students hold an event on terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

The University president’s remark came in response to Union Minister, Venkaiah Naidu’s comment on Intolerance row in JNU.

Last month, while alluding to US Ambassador Richard Verma’s remark on “free speech” being “the hallmark of democracy both in India and the US”, Naidu, without taking names, had hit back in Parliament asking if the US would “tolerate” any campus meeting on its soil to mark the “Osama bin Laden martyrdom anniversary”.

“Can they hold Osama bin Laden martyrdom anniversary in any university in America?… Let America say, ‘Osama, we are ashamed your killers roam free; USA shall be divided into pieces’, Allah willing, Insha Allah. If somebody says like that, is America going to tolerate this?’, questioned Naidu.

Disagreeing with the Naidu’s remark, Christopher said, “We would and should tolerate that. It would be very disruptive. People would be very angry about the statement. But we would not discipline somebody for making statements of that nature,” Christopher told The Indian Express.

“We at Princeton believe that it is a fundamental advantage for a university to be able to tolerate even offensive kinds of speech and to respond to bad arguments when they are made with more speech rather than with disciplinary actions,” he said.

Asked if he agreed with Naidu’s assumption, Christopher said, “We would permit that (event) and there would be no disciplinary action of any kind against those students. That’s unambiguous. It could be very offensive. I might be called upon depending on what the students said or did.

While in India, JNU students were arrested and charged with sedition after the controversial event in the campus, where ‘anti-national’ slogans were raised, Princeton University President asserted that no action would be taken against students even if they organise an event on international terrorist like Osama bin Laden

Eisgruber is a noted constitutional scholar in the US and was elected as Princeton’s President in April 2013.