NSS to host talk on Islam and academic freedom with Steven Greer

Posted: Mon, 6th Mar 2023

NSS to host talk on Islam and academic freedom with Steven Greer

The National Secular Society will hold a free discussion event with a professor who feared for his life after being falsely accused of 'Islamophobia'.

Professor Steven Greer, an internationally-renowned human rights scholar, will explain how false allegations that the module he taught at the University of Bristol was 'Islamophobic' left him feeling betrayed by the institution he expected to defend him.

In 2020 the university's Islamic Society launched complaints about the content of a human rights law module taught by Prof. Greer, which included discussion of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the traditional death penalty for 'blasphemy' in Islam.

Although Prof. Greer was officially exonerated of all allegations after a five-month inquiry, the university cancelled the module.

Prof. Greer said he feared Islamist attacks as a result of the accusations. He took to disguising his appearance in public, while the stress forced him to take time off sick for months.

His case is by no means unique. Only last year, complaints against art history professor Erika Lopez Prater for showing historical depictions of Muhammad in class led to her dismissal from Hamline University in the USA.

Now Research Director at the Oxford Institute for British Islam, Prof. Greer has published a book about his experiences, in the hope it will encourage others to take a stand for free inquiry and debate.

In his online talk on 30th March, Prof. Greer will also comment on the wider issue of Islam and 'blasphemy' in the wake of several high-profile cases in recent years. These include death threats targeting a boy who allegedly scuffed a Quran at a school in Wakefield last week, a teacher forced into hiding for showing a picture of Muhammad in Batley, and several Birmingham primary schools facing protests in 2019 for teaching about LGBT equality.

NSS chief executive: "Urgent" that we explore how to protect freedom of speech and inquiry

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "The issue of Islam, free speech and academic freedom has reared its head again and again.

"As recent events have shown, not least the death threats against a boy in Wakefield for scuffing the Quran, it is urgent that we explore how we can protect these freedoms from the threat of Islamist intimidation.

"We're therefore grateful that Prof. Greer has agreed to speak about his experiences to help prevent others from going through a similar ordeal, and to safeguard freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry from religious censorship."

Tags: Free speech