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University of Bristol fires leading scholar on Islamophobia

The University of Bristol is once again facing heavy criticism after dismissing Professor David Miller, a prominent sociology lecturer and Islamophobia researcher. This was following months of spurious claims that he made antisemitic remarks during his classes. The sacking of Miller on October 1 comes after a persistent smear campaign was orchestrated against the respected anti-Zionist lecturer. The professor has condemned the “shambolic process”, by which his position was terminated. [1] [2]

Defiant in the face of what he referred to as “Israel’s assets in the UK”, Professor Miller responded sharply by stating that the university:

“…has run a shambolic process that seems to have been vetted by external actors. Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the university collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students.” [2]

In February, the higher education establishment’s Islamic Society warned of “multiple complaints” against a different professor, Steven Greer of the university’s Law School. Greer has faced and continues to face criticism “for his reported use of discriminatory remarks and Islamophobic rhetoric”. Following Miller’s sacking, comparisons have been made between the two cases, with the academic institution accused of bowing to pressure from the UK’s ‘Israel’ lobby. It is undoubtedly a matter of surprise that Greer, who previously attempted to blame the Uyghurs’ Islamic beliefs for their suffering, continues to assume his post to this very day. [3] [4]

Announcing Professor Miller’s untimely departure, a brief statement released on the university’s website read as follows:

“We have a duty of care to all students and the wider University community, in addition to a need to apply our own codes of conduct consistently and with integrity. Balancing those important considerations, and after careful deliberation, a disciplinary hearing found Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff and the University has concluded that Professor Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.” [1]

Most interestingly, an “independent report” by an unnamed QC had judged that pro-Palestine Miller had not broken any laws pertaining to illegal speech. Even though the statement acknowledged this, the veteran educator was still fired from the university. As the statement further added:

“The University regards the principle of academic freedom as fundamental and would like to reiterate that we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously. The investigation included an independent report from a leading Queen’s Counsel who considered the important issue of academic freedom of expression and found that Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech.” [1]

Miller is a highly respected political sociologist who presided as a professor in the faculty at the University of Bristol from 2018 until his dismissal on Friday. He was also formerly a professor of sociology at the University of Bath from 2011 to 2018, and was privileged to hold the same role at the University of Strathclyde between the years 2004 and 2011. Miller is an expert on the study of the correlation between lobbying and propaganda, and the self-perpetuation of power as a result of these methods. His published works include What is Islamophobia?: Racism, Social Movements and the State, as well as Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy: Corporate PR and the Assault on Democracy. [5] [6]

The hypocritical standards which the University of Bristol has displayed in the cases of Professor Miller and Professor Greer cannot be understated. While Greer was called out by the Bristol Islamic Society (Brisoc) in February, in March of this year the University launched an investigation into Miller, owing to his strong opposition to Zionism. In a public statement released on March 16, the university stated that “this matter has caused deep concern for some members of our community…” [7]

In addition, in its March statement the university said:

“We can confirm that the University has already initiated an investigation into this matter. The investigation is being carried out in accordance with the University’s internal process and, as we have explained in a previous statement, that process is confidential. In particular, it is not appropriate for the University to make any comment on this matter while the investigation we have referred to is underway.” [7]

In the midst of the smear campaign against Miller, an open letter was signed by over 450 international academics and researchers. The list includes three prominent and highly-acclaimed Jewish academics: Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and long-time political activist; Dr. Norman Finkelstein, author and political scientist; and Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and social campaigner. [8]

Petition: Give Professor David Miller his job back

In the letter, hundreds of top scholars and educators defended Miller by stating:

“Professor Miller is an eminent scholar. He is known internationally for exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, co-ordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism. The impact of his research on the manipulation of narratives by lobby groups has been crucial to deepening public knowledge and discourse in this area.” [8]

The cosignatories went on to say:

“The attacks on Professor Miller stem from a lecture on Islamophobia that he gave to students at the University of Bristol two years ago. In the most recent instance of this harassment, Professor Miller was approached to provide a statement on Israel-Palestine. When he responded honestly to the query, well-orchestrated efforts were made to misrepresent these responses as evidence of anti-Semitism. A call was then made to the University of Bristol to deprive him of his employment.

“We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate. We do so because such vilification has little to do with defeating the harms caused by racism. Instead, efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate.” [8]

Professor Miller’s dismissal is one that reeks of Israeli influence. Indeed, the UK’s ‘Israel’ lobby is one of the most powerful in the world. Lobby groups and pro-Zionist students had reportedly been targeting Miller for the past two years, with the Israeli government itself desperately assisting in the efforts to have Miller removed from his post. [9]

Also Read

University of Bristol professor called out for Islamophobic rhetoric

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2021/october/prof-miller-statement.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/oct/01/bristol-university-sacks-professor-accused-of-antisemitic-comments

[3] https://drive.google.com/file/d/14X-PudoUgf70TkwDZsYJdrRl7PHBCTpp/view

[4] https://www.bristol.ac.uk/people/person/Steven-Greer-eed59a07-5ea6-485b-8e78-5d979a78c553/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/profile/david-miller

[6] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Miller19

[7] https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2021/march/public-statement.html

[8] https://supportmiller.org/educators-and-researchers

[9] https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israel-backs-campaign-against-david-miller

About Shaheer Choudhury

Shaheer is a regular contributor for Islam21c. He maintains a strong interest in current affairs, as well as the changing global conditions of Muslim populations. Prior to joining Islam21c, he developed a number of years' experience in the health and social care sector and has previously volunteered at the Muslim Youth Helpline.

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