Controversial Medal of Honor: FU creates award for politicians – knowledge


Up to now, Freie Universität has had its own award for “outstanding personalities in international politics.” These individuals were presented with the gold medal for the FU in the framework of state visits. But this practice is now over: The FU presidium has decided not to award the medal – without, however, to finally clarify what happens to the medal for Sheikh Maktum of Dubai, which was particularly controversial at the FU.

Honored between 2000 and 2008 were the now-defunct Korean President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung, the then Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberger, Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of the former Egyptian president, and Sheikh Al-Maktum of Dubai.

The latter was struck by the scandal in 2011: The Academic Senate withdrew the medal from the sheikh, among other things because thousands of children in the Emirates were enslaved as jockeys for horses and camels, some of whom died. The sheikh was honored in 2008 for services to “outstanding science funding in the Arab world”, a video of the handover is still on the FU website (the video is here to see). However, the then presidium around the Germanist Peter-André Alt reversed the decision: because the AS has no responsibility for the medal.

The current events surrounding the Medal of Honor come from a letter from the computer scientist Raúl Rojas to the Legal Department of the FU, which is the Tagesspiegel present. Rojas had already made in 2011 in the AS application for medal withdrawal.

The sheikh no longer appears on the list of honorees

It was only this year that Rojas noticed by chance that the sheikh would not appear on the FU website on the list of honorees, despite the previous refusal of the presidium to withdraw the medal.

Rojas asked the law office, whether the sheikh now after years but the medal was revoked. He was given no clear information: He was merely informed that the Bureau had decided in August 2019 that the sheikh “will no longer be on the list of bearers of the Medal of Honor” – but this leaves open whether the medal was in fact also denied. In this context, it was also known that the current FU President Günter M. Ziegler does not want to award the medal at all.

A professor demands that the FU must show its colors

“I think it's good that the medal is abolished. It was only used to flatter politicians, and unfortunately bad, “says Rojas. However, the computer scientist finds the treatment of the sheikh misleading. Just to stop leading him is “overcoming the past through deletion”: “It is not possible to simply let the sheikh disappear through the back door.”

Rojas researched in the historical repository of the Internet: According to this, the name of the sheikh in April 2014 was still on the list of honorees, in August 2014, he was then deleted.

Rojas now demands that the FU confess color: “Either the sheikh is a medalist or not Is not the slogan of the FU” Veritas “in the first place?” On a request from the Tagesspiegel to the case, the FU left open whether the sheikh is still a medalist – and also did not answer, which prompted the Bureau to no longer want to award the medal.


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