A professor has hit out at cancel culture after his lectures were axed following a ‘vicious, militant’ campaign by students who branded him Islamophobic.
University chiefs rejected complaints that human rights expert Steven Greer had expressed ‘bigoted views’ after a five-month investigation – but have still pulled his module from their syllabus.
He accused senior academics of ‘capitulating’ to the threats of students who had called for the module at Bristol University’s law school to be scrapped over his ‘reported use of discriminatory remarks and Islamophobic comments’.
An online petition which was launched by members of the university’s Islamic Society, Brisoc, attracted 3,700 signatures.
University chiefs rejected complaints that Steven Greer (pictured) had expressed ‘bigoted views’ after a five-month investigation – but have still pulled his module from their syllabus
Meanwhile, Prof Greer said he had to flee the family home amid fears for his safety following the campaign against him.
Critics claimed a lecture slide that mentioned the 2015 terror attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine that had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, was ‘Islamophobic rhetoric’.
Prof Greer also highlighted the inferior treatment of women and non-Muslims in Islamic nations, and the harsh penalties handed out under sharia law.
But he believes he largely came under attack because he supports the Government’s Prevent programme to stop radicalisation, which critics have branded anti-Islamic.
Prof Greer, who has worked at the university since the 1980s, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Brisoc’s campaign has been vicious and punitive and has put me and my family under intolerable stress. It has been very threatening and frightening.’
He revealed that he ‘came across a stranger loitering outside our home’ shortly after news of the controversy emerged, adding: ‘They gave an implausible excuse and left.
He accused academics of ‘capitulating’ to the students’ threats who called for his Bristol University (pictured) module to be scrapped over his ‘reported use of discriminatory remarks’
‘Was it just a coincidence or a reconnoitre? We’ll never know. My family and I were, of course, very rattled by this.
‘Taking no chances, my wife and I fled our home to stay somewhere safer for several days.
‘Going public in The Mail on Sunday may increase or decrease the risk to my personal safety. I just don’t know.
‘But the attack upon me is an attack upon a fundamental freedom and this is something worth standing up for, even if I’m harmed as a result.’
Although a formal investigation came down in favour of Prof Greer, he received an email from academic chiefs last week which said his module on Islam, China and the Far East was being dropped so Muslim students would ‘not feel that their religion is being singled out or in any way ‘othered’ by the class material’.
Prof Greer said: ‘Militant minorities are increasingly intent on dictating the content and delivery of university education through vilification, intimidation and threats.
‘Their purpose is to silence lawful and legitimate opinion simply because they disagree with it.
‘The law school has capitulated in a manner which is at variance with the result of the university’s inquiry into my case.’
Prof Greer faced particular criticism over his defence of Prevent, but said the allegation that the programme was Islamophobic had been ‘resoundingly discredited by the best and most recent research… it simply doesn’t stack up against the evidence.’
Of the 697 cases taken on by Prevent last year, 43 per cent were for far-Right extremism and 30 per cent were Islamist.
An online petition which was launched by members of the university’s Islamic Society, Brisoc, attracted 3,700 signatures
Prof Greer, whose book, Tackling Terrorism In Britain: Threats, Responses And Challenges Twenty Years After 9/11, will be published next month, is due to retire at the end of this academic year, but has been signed off work by a doctor because of the impact of the saga on his health.
Students can appeal the ruling in favour of Prof Greer, and a Bristol University spokesman said: ‘Our student complaints procedure has two stages and remains ongoing until both stages are complete.
‘Material from the unit in question is still being taught but in a new format. This change is quite independent of the complaint raised and conforms with normal practice in the school in allowing the development of new teaching material to match students’ current interests.’
Avon and Somerset Police said it was investigating a complaint of harassment. Brisoc did not respond to a request for comment.
Their online petition referred to ‘a pattern of what can only be perceived to be hostility and bigotry towards Muslims which Prof Greer freely disseminates under the pretext of ‘academic freedom’.’
Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, said: ‘Bristol’s treatment of Prof Greer is outrageous.
‘By kowtowing to the Islamic Society, the university has issued a gold-embossed invitation to activists to submit vexatious complaints about its employees.’