Administrators at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM) say they will develop a formal policy for outside groups renting campus space for events after a controversial lecture about 9/11 drew fire by academic staff.
But the French-language university defended its right to have contentious speakers lecture on campus as part of free speech, saying it was appropriate to debate ideas, as long as events don’t incite riots.
The Monday night lecture, hosted by World for 9/11 Truth, drew about 700 people who came to hear from two U.S. academics who deny the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were carried out by terrorists.
The researchers – David Ray Griffin and Richard Gage – believe the U.S. government played a major role in orchestrating the deadly attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Griffin and Gage are lobbying for an independent inquiry into the attacks, which killed 3,000 people. Their theories – part of the self-titled Truthers movement that formed after Sept. 11 – have been repeatedly discounted by scientists and civil engineering experts.
U.S. experts at UQÀM upset
Some professors at the school argue conspiracy theories have no place at UQÀM.
Julien Tourreille, who holds the Raoul-Dandurand chair in strategic and diplomatic issues, told Montreal media outlets that Truthers are intellectually dishonest.
“I think it’s a shame to see UQÀM’s name associated to such a movement,” Tourreille told Montreal newspaper La Presse last week. “It doesn’t help the credibility of a research institution that tries to demonstrate that it employs serious people.”
U.S. experts at other Quebec institutions, including Steven Saideman at McGill University and Louis Balthazar at Laval University, also spoke out in public against the conference.
Griffin and Gage gave a similar talk at the University of Toronto over the weekend.