KCL Professor Peter Neumann is under investigation after claims of Islamophobia and bullying
Professor Peter Neumann has been accused of using ‘bullying tactics’ against a Muslim academic on Twitter
King’s College London has said it will investigate allegations of bullying and Islamophobia made against a King’s professor.
Professor Peter Neumann, a professor of counter-terrorism, has been accused by a group of academics, researchers and activists in an open letter to KCL of using “bullying tactics” to “harass” Muslim academic Dr Tarek Younis, a junior lecturer of psychology at Middlesex University.
The controversy began after a seemingly innocent conversation began between the two academics on Twitter, when Dr Younis replied on October 24 to Professor Neumann’s apparent suggestion that terrorism was causing the “gradual implosion of French society”. Younis instead suggested that actions of the French state might also have contributed to social divisions.
Neumann’s response to this statement was that “nothing justifies killing innocent people. I hope we can at least agree on that. Or do we not?”
Younis later criticised Neumann’s statement, saying on Twitter that “If people can’t understand the Islamophobia in this interaction with Neumann, that is a worrying reality indeed.”
However, the controversy resurfaced on October 30, when Neumann again contacted Younis on Twitter and asked for him to comment on a terrorist attack that occurred in Nice on the previous day. In Tweets that have since been deleted, Neumann said: “I’d love to share your views on yesterday’s events, Tarek”, and additionally tagged Middlesex University, Younis’ employer.
Questioning in a subsequent Tweet why Neumann was tagging his employer, Younis continued to be directed questions by Neumann, pressing for an answer, and repeatedly referencing Middlesex University.
Younis criticises the interaction with Neumann, accusing him on Twitter of bullying and of openly threatening his employment.
The open letter claims that Neumann “only addressed his demand to Muslim scholars” including Asim Qureshi, and suggests that he was, therefore “indicating their belief was connected to the political points they were making”.
The letter condemns Professor Neumann’s actions and requests that King’s investigate the incident. It argues that “Peter Neumann has shown himself to display racist behaviours that seriously questions his role as a counter-terrorism expert and his abuse of power places all students and staff under him at risk of harm and discrimination”.
Twitter users have expressed their concern over this interaction as well. One user says the incident has now made them “scared” to go to KCL, while another believes that incidents like these are contributing to KCL “falling down in the rankings”.
When contacted, Professor Neumann declined the invitation to comment. A King’s College London spokesperson said: “We are aware of a complaint regarding the conduct of a member of our staff. We do not condone inappropriate or abusive behaviour. This is being taken very seriously and we will be carrying out an investigation”.
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