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On Tuesday 3 March, the VUB will welcome the well-known TV journalist and Middle East specialist Rudi Vranckx. Vranckx, who received an honorary doctorate from the VUB and the ULB for his efforts in interpreting conflicts and political power structures, will participate in a panel discussion in Bar Pilar on, among other things, the Refugee Student Programme of the VUB. The event is called Sound of Freedom, and will be musically enlivened by the virtuoso Iraqi lute player Khalid Al Rawi. 


The subtitle of Sound of Freedom is Protecting artists and scholars at risk. Scholars at risk is also the name of the network of which the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is part since 2011. This international network of academic institutions was set up to defend the principles of academic freedom and to offer protection, including shelter, to researchers suffering repression in their home countries.


Core values of the VUB
It is no wonder that the VUB has joined Scholars at Risk. Defending academic freedom and freedom of expression belongs to the university’s core humanistic values.  The VUB carries the concept of ‘free’ in its name for a reason.


Sound of Freedom will not only focus on the efforts and achievements of the VUB in the context of Scholars at Risk.  Attention will also be paid to the Refugee Student Programme.  This programme offers students with a refugee background the opportunity to start or continue their studies.  In 2015, the VUB was one of the very first universities in Europe to set up such a programme.

The poster of Sound of Freedom

Lute player Khalid Al Rawi

Rudi Vranckx is without doubt the best suited person to partake in the concluding panel discussion.  For years, the reporter has been concerned about the fate of people in problem areas in the Middle East.  Recently he and illustrator Caryl Strzelecki published a gripping graphic novel called ‘Mosul’.  The story tells of his action in September 2017, in which he was able to hand over instruments donated by Flemish people to the teachers and pupils of the music school in the war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul.  He was also the driving force behind the visit of some musicians from Musil to Belgium, where they played in different cities.


Khaled Al Rawi, the lute player who will perform a few songs during Sound of Freedom, was not one of those musicians, being an Iraqi. But in his music there is the same sound of hope and optimism for a dignified life as in that of the musicians from Mosul.


Sound of Freedom
Tuesday 3 March, from 12:00 to 14:00 in Bar Pilar, on the Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus of the VUB
With introduction by VUB rector Caroline Pauwels.
Click here for more info and registration