VU shuts squatter center after hosting Palestinian convicted bomber

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. (Photo: Steven Lek / Wikimedia Commons)

The Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam decided to close squatter hall De Verrekijker on its campus after the student club in charge of the hall arranged a gathering with controversial Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh there on Tuesday without informing the university about it, NOS reports.

Rasmea Odeh was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for a bomb attack in which two people were killed in 1969. She was released in a prison exchange in 1980. 

The fact that Odeh spoke at the event is not the reason the university is closing the hall, spokesperson Wessel Agterhof said to NOS. The reason for the closure is that the student club did not inform the university about the gathering, which means the university couldn't take any additional security measures. "The most important thing is: we were not aware of it. It was a secret meeting and that is something we seriously hold against De Verrekijker", Agterhof said. "The Public Prosecutor followed it online and the police informed us about the lecture, not the students themselves."

According to Agterhof, the fact that there were no problems at the gathering does not change the fact that the university was seriously concerned about the safety of the students and staff. "We were lucky, or perhaps were were overly worried. But if we are confronted with a secret lecture and that happens to go end quietly, we will not just leave it at that." He repeated that the concealment of the meeting is the reason for De Verrekijker's closure, but would not tell NOS whether VU would have allowed the lecture to continue if the students had informed the university.

The student group refused to respond to NOS about the decision to close De Verrekijker. On Facebook they talk about censorship.