Dutch university says student cannot defend PhD dressed as pirate

Engineer takes institution to human rights body over satirical dig at exceptions for religious clothing

November 24, 2017
Laughing pirate
Source: iStock

A researcher has taken a Dutch university to the country’s Institute for Human Rights for not allowing him to defend his PhD dressed as a pirate.

Environmental engineer Michael Afanasyev says that he is a priest of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an organisation that lampoons what it claims are special exemptions for religious people.

He told the Dutch paper De Volkskrant: “Muslims can wear headscarves on their passport pictures for religious motives, and Sikhs can wear turbans.” He questioned the university’s right to determine what was important to his religion.

Mr Afanasyev, studying at Delft University of Technology, has previously successfully obtained an Israeli passport in which he wears a colander on his head, in honour of the Spaghetti Monster.

Pirates are a key part of the satirical religion. “Believers” have pointed out that there is a direct inverse correlation between the number of pirates in the world and rising global temperatures.

The university told the newspaper that PhD defendants needed to wear “formal” attire. Headscarves would be allowed if they did “justice to the subdued character” of the occasion, but a pirate costume was not appropriate, it stated.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

This made me laugh.

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