A university professor who was cancelled after false allegations of Islamophobia has revealed he was scared Muslim extremists would kill him.
Human rights scholar Steven Greer, 66, who was born in Belfast, said he was more afraid for his life than he was growing up during the Troubles when undergraduates at Bristol University Law School complained that elements of his course were racist and discriminatory.
Professor Greer grew a long, bushy beard and wore fake glasses to disguise himself and carried a screwdriver and a ‘sturdy’ umbrella in case he was attacked.
Prof Greer was fully exonerated of all wrongdoing last year and has slammed ‘woke’ students for putting the lives of academics like himself at risk.
The grandfather-of-three fears a ‘Woke Inquisition’ could ‘dumb down degree courses at many of the UK’s finest institutions’.
Professor Steven Greer, 66, (pictured) was wrongly ‘cancelled’ after being accused of Islamophobia by students at the University of Bristol
He was so scared for his life that he grew a long, bushy beard and carried a screwdriver with him in case he was attacked
Prof Greer’s memoir, Falsely Accused of Islamophobia: My Struggle Against Academic Cancellation, was released today
He said: ‘Cancel culture is fast becoming the scourge of academia.
‘A climate of fear is already replacing an environment of free, critical inquiry.
‘There is a growing risk that many students will leave university with little critical insight, knowledge, or appreciation of the vital importance of intellectual freedom and evidence-based thinking in a healthy democracy.
‘Some, wearing self-tied gags and blinkers, will go on to join the next generation of leaders. This does not bode well for the future of our society.’
He said academics were at risk of attacks because of how easy it was for students to make racism allegations ‘based on nothing but lies and distortion’.
The former university lecturer said academics were ‘already self-censoring’ because they were afraid of being falsely branded as ‘hostile to minorities including gays, transsexuals and Muslims’ by ‘woke student campaigners’.
He said: ‘Cancel culture is fast becoming the scourge of academia. A climate of fear is already replacing an environment of free, critical inquiry’
The professor and grandfather-of-three said while some universities ‘remain beacons of intellectual freedom, others are increasingly cowed by members of the cancel culture woke far-left’
He was cleared of all wrongdoing after a five-month investigation but university bosses dropped his module on Islam, China and the Far East so Muslim students would ‘not feel that their religion is being singled out or in any way “othered” by the class material’
Prof Greer added: ‘Prejudice is deplorable and should rightly be condemned but this is far removed from legitimate academic enquiry.
‘Unfortunately, cancel culture fails to see the distinction.
‘The issue is compounded by universities. While some remain beacons of intellectual freedom, others are increasingly cowed by members of the cancel culture woke far-left.
‘Not only are students losing out but the reputation of British higher education is also being damaged around the world.
‘Unless something effective is done about these challenges then within the next decade academic freedom will be irretrievably lost.’
Prof Greer said university bosses need to do more to protect academics from ‘intolerant’ students.
He said: ‘I had until last year enjoyed a wonderful career and I believe I had earned the respect of students, colleagues and peers all over the world.
University chiefs rejected complaints that Steven Greer had expressed ‘bigoted views’ after a five-month investigation — but have still pulled his module from their syllabus
A University of Bristol spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We encourage students to engage with, debate, analyse and critique ideas and theories of all kinds within our academic programmes’
An online petition that was launched by members of the university’s Islamic Society, Brisoc, was signed by more than 4,000 people
‘Almost overnight my name became synonymous with bigotry, racism and Islamophobia – especially on social media – because of a handful of malicious students who set out to ruin my life.
‘I was vilified and my name and reputation were dragged through the mud.
‘For my own safety, I was forced to act like a fugitive for including academically authoritative, fact-based information in my course that a few militant students took objection to.
‘My case is not the first of this kind and nor, sadly, is it likely to be the last.
Allegations of Islamophobia were first made against Prof Greer after he used a teaching slide that mentioned the 2015 terror attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine that had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The slide was described as having ‘Islamophobic rhetoric’.
Additionally, a lecture that included ‘well-attested observations’ about the inferior treatment of women and non-Muslims in Islamic states and the tough penalties handed out under Sharia law was slated as ‘bigoted and divisive’.
A five-month inquiry led by a senior academic at Bristol University found each of the accusations to be baseless.
An independent QC appointed during the inquiry also found Prof Greer was not guilty of harassment.
However, the ‘scurrilous falsehoods by a handful of illiberal students’ led to the removal of the material from the course and left him fearing for his reputation and his life.
Professor Greer was so scared for his own safety that he went into hiding.
The allegations against the professor were first levelled in October 2020 when Bristol University’s Islamic Society (BRISOC) made a formal complaint to the University of Bristol alleging multiple counts of Islamophobia in his teaching and other public output.
He was accused of expressing ‘bigoted views’ in the Islam, China, and the Far East module of the Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society (HRLPS) course he designed and taught since 2006.
The module highlighted the inferior treatment of women and non-Muslims in Islamic states, and the hard penalties issued under Sharia law.
External examiners repeatedly praised its ‘rigorous and critical’ examination of contemporary human rights issues.
In February 2021, BRISOC made its complaint public through an online petition and social media campaign.
Professor Greer was also accused of ‘Islamophobic rhetoric’ for including the 2015 Paris terror attack in a lecture slide, and of airing ‘Islamophobic, bigoted and divisive’ views.
BRISOC also claimed that he had laughed at a passage from the Quran in a seminar.
The petition received more than 4,000 signatures and called for Professor Greer’s suspension or dismissal should he not issue an immediate apology, and the cancellation of the Islam, China and the Far East module from the HRLPS course regardless.
Within days, he received a series of threatening emails and was alarmed after spotting a suspicious person loitering near his home in Bristol.
Avon and Somerset Police took his concerns seriously but an investigation was dropped due to a lack of evidence.
In July 2021, following a five-month enquiry, Bristol University fully exonerated him of all BRISOC’s allegations.
The decision was unanimously upheld in October of that year when a panel of three senior Bristol academics rejected BRISOC’s appeal against the inquiry’s decision.
Professor Greer, who had worked at the University since the 1980s, was signed off work by a doctor from September 2021 to January 2022.
He was not allocated any further teaching duties upon his return and says he was kept on what he regards as unofficial ‘research leave’ until his retirement in September 2022.
University bosses also dropped his module on Islam, China and the Far East so Muslim students would ‘not feel that their religion is being singled out or in any way “othered” by the class material’.
Prof Greer was appointed as research director for the Oxford Institute for British Islam (OIBI), an independent Muslim think tank and research academy, after his ordeal.
Prof Greer’s memoir, Falsely Accused of Islamophobia: My Struggle Against Academic Cancellation, was released today.
Last December, the Office for Students (OfS) watchdog warned university bosses to uphold freedom of speech on campuses or risk a fine of up to £500,000.
Susan Lapworth, its chief executive, said academic freedom has become a major issue in universities.
The rise of ‘campus wokery’ has seen speakers banned and academics bullied out of jobs for voicing opinions.
Karolien Celie, of the Free Speech Union, a body that promotes freedom of speech and defends those targeted by online mobs, said: ‘Professor Greer’s horrifying ordeal is yet another salutary reminder of the fragility of academic freedom in the contemporary UK.
‘His account of his own case, together with authoritative reflections on the rise of cancel culture and its implications in academia, sound an alarm bell which nobody who cares about the maintenance of liberal democratic societies should ignore.’
A University of Bristol spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Ensuring that all members of our community can exercise their right to free speech has always been and remains at the heart of our mission.
‘We encourage students to engage with, debate, analyse and critique ideas and theories of all kinds within our academic programmes.
‘As a University we are bound to investigate formal complaints when received.
‘This complaint was not upheld.’
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