Delft University refuses to listen to PhD student dressed as pirate

Students at work in Delft’s main library. Photo:

A student at Delft University who has been refused leave to defend his PhD thesis while dressed as a pirate has taken his case to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday.

Michael Afanasyev, a 38-year-old geohydrologist, claims he is a priest of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which, according to its website, ‘casts a critical look at society and other religions but takes a tolerant stance’.

‘Afanasyev claims the university is guilty of discrimination. ‘Muslims can wear head scarves on their passport pictures for religious motives and Sikhs can wear turbans. The it would be logical for us to wear a colander to honour our god, his noodly appendage,’ the paper quotes him as saying.

Afanasyev has earlier successfully claimed freedom of religion to gain an Israeli passport with a picture of him in his capacity of priest, wearing a colander on his head.

The pirate costume derives from the belief that pirates are godly creatures whose demise is causing natural disaster, a story Flying Spaghetti Monster adherents say is no more weird than changing water into wine.

In a reaction the university, has said that the ceremony is a formal academic one with an emphasis on scientific dialogue where participants wear suitable clothing. An earlier PhD candidate specialised in robotics did bring a robot to the ceremony as one of the coaches which was wearing a bow tie for the occasion, the Volkskrant said.

Afansyev’s case will be heard by the human rights commission on November 21.