NYU Abu Dhabi 'blocks filming of John Kerry speech'

NYU Abu Dhabi 'blocks filming of John Kerry speech'
Analysts speculate the decision might have followed Kerry's initial intent to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, which the UAE and most Gulf states strongly opposed.
2 min read
John Kerry pictured landing in Abu Dhabi in 2016 [Getty]
NYU Abu Dhabi blocked journalists on Sunday from filming former Secretary of State John Kerry who was speaking to an audience of recent graduates. 

Kerry, who has engaged in shadow diplomacy to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, did not mention the agreement. The UAE, along with most Gulf states, strongly opposed the deal negotiated under his boss former president Barack Obama.

It likely was courtesy to his hosts in the UAE capital, which has long argued for more stringent measures to limit Iran's power. Kerry shared the stage with Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who has led the UAE's criticism of the deal. 

Instead, Kerry said that "True civil discourse" was under threat around the world, "eroding rights alongside trust". "Certainly in my country, our politics has become almost all accusatory and all bombastic".

While never naming Trump, Kerry began his remarks by saying: "Given what's going on today, I'm glad to be invited anywhere folks." He quickly added that the US "needs to build partnerships and cannot turn its back on the world".

This is not the first time NYU Abu Dhabi has faced criticism when trying to balance the ideas of an American liberal arts education in the UAE, which does not generally allow free speech.

A university spokeswoman, Kate Chandler, said it was the school's decision. Staffers for Kerry said they had no part in the organisation of the event. NYU Abu Dhabi invited reporters to cover Kerry's speech, but said just before the ceremony they could not film his full remarks. The university said it would offer video that it would editorially control after the event. 

NYU Abu Dhabi later posted the entire commencement, including Kerry's remarks, to the web. 

In 2017, NYU's journalism department cut ties with its Abu Dhabi branch campus after two professors were denied work visas by the UAE. 

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