The University of Bristol, which recently sacked the pro-Palestine Professor David Miller, has now exonerated another lecturer accused of Islamophobia.
In a ruling that has angered the university’s Islamic society (BRICSOC), the University of Bristol concluded that Law School Professor Steven Greer was not guilty of discrimination or harassment.
The university said: “Allegations made against Professor Greer centered on the content of an optional human rights module which he has taught for 15 years at the University… A QC appointed to review and advise on the content of the module found no evidence of Islamophobic speech and concluded that the material did not amount to discrimination or harassment and was intended as the basis for academic debate by the students who elected to study it.
“In addition, the issues discussed in relation to Islam were within the scope of the curriculum and therefore exempt from constituting harassment or discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Although the complaint has not been upheld, we recognise BRISOC’s concerns and the importance of airing differing views constructively. We welcome further discussions with the society to explain our decision and reaffirm our commitment to providing a positive and inclusive university experience for all our students.
“In response to claims that the human rights module taught by Professor Greer has been cancelled, we can confirm that this is not the case. The fundamental structure and content of the module remains; the changes made are of emphasis and in part designed to future proof the course by allowing a level of flexibility in the development of new teaching material to match students’ current interests, the specialisms of the course’s new conveners and their wish to deliver the material in a context that is both broad-reaching and respectful of sensitivities of students on the course.”
Nearly 3,800 people signed a petition urging the University of Bristol to take swift action against Greer due to his alleged “use of discriminatory remarks and Islamophobic comments.”
The petition said that law students reported that “Professor Greer frequently expresses views in his classes that can be deemed Islamophobic, bigoted and divisive.”
For example, the BRISOC said that Professor Greer provided justification for the Chinese government policy of targeting Uyghur Muslims by stating that “if a particular piece of legislation impacts disproportionately against a group, it looks ‘superficially’ like it is discrimination […] this is the case with China and Muslims in re-education camps.”
They claimed he expanded on this by saying that “most difficulties [in reference to the Uyghur’s plight] stem from the Islamic influence upon it.”
Greer has reportedly used the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris as “evidence of Islam’s stance on freedom of speech” which BRISOC view as “an example of the kind of Islamophobic rhetoric that aims to posit the actions of killers as being representative of the entire Muslim community and Islam.”
And when asked in a video if the Prevent Duty is “racist, Islamophobic and discriminatory,” Greer responded: “The Prevent strategy includes all forms of terrorism but the fact that most of those that had come to its attention are Muslims is simply a reflection that jihadi terrorism is the principal terrorist threat that the UK currently faces.”
According to MailOnline, Prof Greer also highlighted the “inferior treatment” of women and non-Muslims in Islamic nations, and the harsh penalties handed out under sharia law.
University ‘failed in duty of care’
Following the outcome of the investigation, Bristol Islamic Society told The Bristol Tab that the university had failed in their duty of care to students, failed in their promise to “decolonise the curriculum” and are “celebrating bigoted menfolk and advancing colonial thought.”
In a statement they added: “We have seen no comment from the University acknowledging its impact on students, rather the spotlight has been on Greer’s wellbeing. The university should, at the very least, acknowledge and support those students who have spent months in distress, with low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”
In a statement, Professor Greer told The Bristol Tab: “Following an almost eight-month University inquiry and review, it is a huge relief to have been completely and unreservedly exonerated with respect to the utterly groundless allegations of Islamophobia made against me by the University of Bristol Islamic Society (BRISOC). This decision, originally reached at the end of July, was unanimously confirmed by a University review panel on 8 October 2021.
“While the University’s statement of 8 October announces my complete and unequivocal exoneration, it simultaneously undermines it. Recognising ‘BRISOC’s concerns’ is utterly incompatible with the result of the inquiry and review which found these to be totally without foundation. restructure the degree unit at the heart of BRISOC’s baseless allegations, in order to be ‘respectful of the with the result of the officia
“It is also grossly defamatory in so far as it implies that there was any disrespect hitherto. The modification of the syllabus in question also calls the University’s commitment to academic freedom into question.”