Bristol Islamic Society furious after uni clears professor of ‘Islamophobia’ allegations

Islamic Soc says the uni has failed to acknowledge the impact on students


Bristol Uni has confirmed that Professor Steven Greer has been cleared of all charges following a formal complaint by the Bristol Islamic Society who accused him of Islamophobia.

An investigation was opened into Greer’s conduct over ideas and views he had shared about Islam as part of a Human Rights Law module. The Bristol Islamic Society launched a petition in February calling for the module to be scrapped which was signed by over 3,700 people.

A Bristol University investigation found the content Greer taught was intended for “academic debate” and has confirmed the module, which he has taught for 15 years, will not be scrapped. Bristol Islamic Society has reacted with fury to the findings of the inquiry.

Professor Greer said the findings of the inquiry were a “huge relief” and said the university’s recognition of BRISOC’s concerns was “utterly incompatible with the result of the inquiry”.

In a wide ranging attack on the university, the society also claim Bristol Uni has 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”.

Bristol Uni said: “Allegations made against Professor Greer centred around the content of an optional human rights module which he has taught for 15 years at the University.  Complex legal, regulatory and policy questions were raised relating to equality, academic freedom and freedom of speech.

“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.”

Bristol Islamic Society told The Bristol Tab: “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.

“To suggest that it was necessary to restructure the degree unit at the heart of BRISOC’s baseless allegations, in order to be ‘respectful of the sensitivities of students on the course’, is totally at variance with the result of the official inquiry and review.

“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.”

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