UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI
Mohammad Shakil Auj, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Karachi, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while being driven to an Iranian cultural center where he was invited to speak as a guest of honor. Although the crime is still being investigated by Pakistani police, many believe Auj’s death was motivated by his outspoken, liberal views of Islam, which could have upset Muslim conservatives — for example, he had issued fatwas pronouncing that Muslims and non-Muslims could intermarry. In response, students at the university have carried out protests calling for the arrest of Auj’s killers, and greater security measures to protect professors.
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Think adding artificial sweeteners to your food and drink will hasten the results of weight loss? Think again. Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department produced an experiment which promotes the idea that artificial sweeteners may be contributing to obesity and diabetes. Dr. Elinav led a team of graduate students who gave mice water mixed with artificial sweeteners in portions approved of by the FDA, and found that the mice all developed glucose intolerance. In addition, the artificial sweeteners were not absorbed by the mice’s gastrointestinal tract, which led to an overgrowth of gut bacteria. The same experiment using different mice produced the same results.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch University has uncovered a piece of its dark history after a doctoral research student found anthropometric material tucked away in a storage cupboard. The find included a human skull, an eye color chart and the hair color chart of Eugen Fischer — the late German professor of medicine and anthropology whose studies served as the basis of Nazi Germany’s eugenics programs in WWII. South African media and academicians are debating whether or not the find is a nod to the university’s physical anthropology curriculum during the apartheid years, when students were taught about eugenics, racial hygiene and hereditary genetics in order to push racist policies into a “morally acceptable direction.”
MINZU UNIVERSITY OF CHINA
An Uyghur scholar and former economics professor at Minzu University, Ilham Tohti, was sentenced to life in prison this week after being found guilty by a Chinese court on charges of “separatism.” The court claimed during the trial that Tohti “bewitched and coerced” his students into translating, writing and editing articles for his website, promoting Xinjiang’s separation from China. The court also claimed that Tohti “internationalized” the growing violence, political oppression and ethnic tension between the Turkic-speaking Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese in Xinjiang.