Thu, 22 Apr 2021

  • A British Professor Steven Greer has been criticised over what some describe as Islamophobic comments.
  • Law students claimed Greer frequently represented Islam as "incompatible with freedom".
  • The university barred Greer from making comments on the allegations.

A British university professor has come under mounting criticism over what students described as his "Islamophobic" remarks and taught content.

In a statement last week, the University of Bristol's Islamic Society (Brisoc) said it was "alarmed by multiple complaints against Professor Steven Greer of the Law School for his reported use of discriminatory remarks and Islamophobic rhetoric".

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Law students have claimed Greer "frequently expressed views in class that can be deemed Islamophobic, bigoted and divisive", said the statement, which was signed by several other student societies.

Although Greer's accusers have gone public, he has been barred by the university from making any comment on the allegations because they are subject to an ongoing investigation and he is bound by a duty of confidentiality.

He did however tell Al Jazeera he rejects the allegations.

Brisoc's president, Aamir Mohamed, told Al Jazeera the first complaints came last September and the society lodged a formal complaint with the university in November.

Independent complaint

A law student at the university said he filed an independent complaint about Greer in 2020.

Brisoc is demanding an official apology from Greer and the removal of content it considers to be problematic, in a human rights module.

The society also seeks an apology from the university for "funding, supporting and promoting" Greer's work and for its "delayed updates" since the complaint was made, said the statement.

The principle complaint against Greer relates to a human rights module he teaches, titled Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society.

Brisoc highlighted several lines in lecture slides they provided to Al Jazeera from the module.

One of Greer's students described them as painting an overall "misinformed and bigoted view of Islam".

In a section discussing "Islam and human rights", Greer listed freedom of expression as a "key challenge", and highlighted "insult to Islam was punishable by death".

The slide gave the deadly Charlie Hebdo attack as an example.

Gunmen killed at least 12 people when they attacked the French satirical magazine in 2015 over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad they deemed offensive.

A student who attended Greer's class said he was shocked by some of the content, which gave the impression that Islam was "essentially bad" and "incompatible with freedom".

'Cherry-picked his examples'

"The Charlie Hebdo killing was a terrorist attack. Muslim leaders not only condemned the killings, but the fact that the professor actually used it as proof of Islam's stance on freedom of expression was absolutely appalling," said the law student, who wished to remain anonymous.

"The professor cherry-picked his examples to put Muslims in such a negative light when there are examples of the contrary - he just chose to not talk about them," he said.

On the same slide, Greer listed several other human rights challenges related to Islam, including freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the position of non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

According to Fosis, an umbrella body of Islamic societies in UK universities, the Bristol case is not unique.

"Numerous cases are brought to our attention regularly where universities have failed to recognise and adequately address the concerns of Muslim students and their experiences with Islamophobia," said Muna Ali, acting vice president of student affairs at Fosis.

According to the National Union of Students, there are more than 300 000 Muslim university students in the UK.

An NUS study in 2018 revealed that one in three Muslim students in the UK had experienced abuse or crime at their place of study, while one in four said they would not report an Islamophobic incident.

Source: News24

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