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"Attacks on free science are attacks on our democratic society"

They are the target of "hate speech" in social media, find themselves in tendentious press articles or have to defend themselves against the manipulation of their Wikipedia portraits: Scientists of all disciplines who critically deal with the Corona pandemic and its consequences. Against this backdrop, but also on the occasion of the recent threats to researchers at the University of Erfurt in this context, the Presidium has strengthened the backs of its academics and drawn attention to the dangers of restricting academic freedom in a statement. You can find the wording of the statement here:

"Some of our colleagues have been under constant fire since the Corona pandemic. They are confronted with agitation, hatred, defamation and even threats of criminal charges or physical violence. This is unbearable. We therefore call for decisive action and civil courage - also and especially on the world wide web. At the University of Erfurt, we will always defend the freedom of research and teaching against ideologically motivated restrictions and stand up for a liberal academic climate. Because what we need is a society whose knowledge and actions are based on evidence-based information, not on manipulative opinions and anti-enlightenment propaganda. It is part of the nature of science that there are conflicting positions in research, positions that need to be questioned again and again, that some scientific findings are subject to a certain provisionality and therefore sometimes have to be adjusted or even revised afterwards. It is existential for progress, it moves us forward. However, only - and this is the prerequisite for a successful discourse - if the criticism remains factual, well-founded and without becoming personal. Otherwise, scientists risk withdrawing from public debates. The loss for society could not be more serious.

We are proud of our researchers. Of all the colleagues who - partly with the support of students - have been helping for many months to better understand what makes people 'tick' in the Corona crisis and who are contributing with great commitment to minimising the negative consequences of the pandemic for society.

Anyone who threatens our academics threatens our university. We will not tolerate that. That is why we report threats of this kind to the police.

Free science is a cornerstone of our democracy and is enshrined in Article 5 of the 'Grundgesetz'. We are not prepared to surrender it to hatred and agitation. This is the responsibility of all of us. We are many - who together can determine how we treat each other and want to live, and also how great the damage Corona will leave on society will be. Let's not leave the decision to the 'trolls' on the world wide web, to hate and agitation."