Muslims in support of Professor Miller

Professor Hugh Brady
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Bristol

Professor Brady,

As British Muslims, we constantly have to face harassment by Islamophobic organisations attempting to push us out of public life; threats to our livelihood for speaking out about the racism we face; and trial by media. This means that the orchestrated pile-on by pro-Israel groups, politicians and public figures against Professor David Miller is a tactic we recognise very well.

We are disturbed that the University of Bristol has not spoken out unequivocally in support of Professor Miller’s right to teach about Islamophobia – one of the most pernicious, widespread and deeply rooted forms of racism in British society.

Professor Miller’s work on Islamophobia is among the most highly respected in the world. He is entirely correct to point out that Islamophobia is a complex phenomenon that has become an industry in which overlapping political interest groups are involved. It is a matter of well-documented fact that many of the most dangerous Islamophobic myths that have seeped into our public debate are specifically promoted by pro-Israel organisations. The University’s naivety and credulity in response to this latest cynical campaign embarrasses the institution; serves to constrict free speech; and is likely unlawful.

We note that some of the same campus protagonists directing baseless accusations at Professor Miller supported an Islamophobic rally at Bristol. The notorious far-right hate preacher Colonel Richard Kemp and the former head of Israeli military intelligence Yossi Kuperwasser were guest speakers. Immediately afterwards, Kemp accused Palestinian and Muslim students at Bristol of “supporting and encouraging…terrorism”.

The campaign against Professor Miller is about censoring speech on Islamophobia and Israel. This campaign is carefully calibrated to muddy the waters between anti-Zionism (opposition to a dangerous, racist political ideology) and hatred of Jews. The attacks on Professor Miller are an example of how the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is being weaponised by supporters of Israel and by Islamophobes.

We expect an unequivocal public statement from the University, defending Professor Miller’s right to academic freedom and showing that it takes Islamophobia seriously. We demand that the University hosts a meeting with Palestinian and Muslim students, as well as off-campus groups, who have expressed a lack of confidence in the University’s failure to support Professor Miller.

cc:

Prof Sarah Purdy Pro VC (Student Experience)
Prof Tansy Jessop Pro VC (Education)
Mr Jack Boyer Chair, Board of Trustees
Dr. Moira Hamlin Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees
Prof Judith Squires, Provost
Ms Jane Bridgwater, Director of Legal Services
Prof Simon Tormey Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

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