Civil society organisations, scholars and activists from Malaysia have written to the University of Bristol threatening to lobby Kuala Lumpur to stop sending students there unless it reinstates Professor David Miller.
Some 600 Malaysian students are currently enrolled at the university making them the second largest overseas contingent. They pay millions of pounds in fees annually.
Miller, who was professor of political sociology and a member of the School for Policy Studies, was fired in September after a long campaign by pro-Israel activists to have him removed on allegations of antisemitism.
But despite clearing him of the antisemitism charges, the university fired him saying his conduct had fallen below the standards expected from its staff.
The letter, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations and signed by 20 groups and individuals, says Prof. Miller’s sacking raises serious concerns about the security and intellectual development of Malaysian students in an environment where any criticism of Israel invites repression by the university authorities at the instigation of the Israeli lobby.
“We conclude that the Bristol University is no longer a safe space for Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students, and staff,” states the letter.
The letter is designed to add to worldwide pressure on the university to reinstate Prof. Miller. Last month a host of civil society organisations in the UK wrote to the university threatening to organise a boycott unless the lecturer is restored to his post.
Mohammed Azmi Abdul Hamid, the President of Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations which spearheaded the writing of the letter, said: “It is unthinkable that we should pay this institution hundreds of thousands of pounds just to allow our youngsters to go into such a poisonous environment where they have no security and where their rights are curtailed.”
Below is the letter in full:
Professor Hugh Brady
Vice Chancellor and President, University Bristol
UNFAIR DISMISSAL OF PROFESSOR MILLER
We, the undersigned, are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms your decision to sack Professor David Miller.
Prof Miller’s dismissal followed a concerted campaign by the pro-Israeli groups against him for his impeccable research in the areas of Islamophobia and Palestine and the Israel lobby.
We are appalled by the fact that although Prof Miller was cleared of the charge of anti- Semitism laid against him by pro-Israel organisations, your institution elected to dismiss him anyway on the grounds that he did not respect contrary views being criticised. In other words, his comments offended some of those whom his work identifies as racists, upholders of an apartheid regime and perpetrators of systematic oppression.
In firing Prof Miller, you have chosen to take sides with a foreign state that has left no stone unturned in its determination to silence voices that criticise its abominable racist behaviour at home and in the international arena. This is evident from the fact that you have given credence to complaints from the forces ranged against Prof Miller (inter alia Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Community Security Trust) all of whom are apologists for the Israeli state.
The dismissal is also an affront to the right of Prof Miller, and the wider university population, to freedom of speech, a principle that is held even more sacred in academic settings and without which intellectual enquiry cannot properly take place. Censuring academics because their views offend people on the opposing side of the debate sets a dangerous precedent for universities that cannot be allowed to stand.
The upshot of your decision is that Bristol University is no longer a safe space for Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students, and staff. Likewise, all those who criticise the Israeli state and its apologists as racist. None of these groups can now expect to express critical views on Israel without fear of reproach.
There are six hundred Malaysian students studying in Bristol University. We are seriously concerned about their security, and intellectual development in an environment where any criticism of the Apartheid State of Israel invites repression by the University authorities at the instigation of the Israeli lobby in Britain. We shall take up the matter with our government to stop sending students to Bristol University unless you reverse the decision to dismiss Prof Miller.
Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid
President of Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations (MAPIM)
- Datuk Seri Syeikh Ahmad Awang
Chairman International Islamic Tasawwur Center (IITC)
- Datuk Wira Syekh Abdul Ghani Samsuddin Chairman Secretariate of the Ulama Assembly of Asia
- Mohideen Abdul Kader Chair Citizens International
- Dr Mohamad Fauzi Zakaria
Chairman Advocacy for Justice and Peace Institute Malaysia.
- Dr Abdul Latif Ibrahim
Head for International Relations for Save the Al Aqsa Campaign
- Dr Khairul Anwar.
Chairman Association of Muslim Minority Affairs Advocacy and Research
- Datuk Wan Muhammad Syekh Aziz Deputy Chair Ulama Association of Malaysia
- Prof Dr Roslan Mohd Nor,
President Association of Malaysian Intellectuals
- Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad, Deputy Chair IITC Malaysia
- Dr Zainal Samicho , Halal Consultant MAPIM
- Ir Mohd Jamaludin Shamsudin ,
Allied Coordinating Committee Islamic Ngos
- Dr Abdullah Sudin ,
President of University Graduates ( HALUAN )
- Dr Khairuddin Datuk Malik ,
Chairman Islamic NGO Network of Perak, Malaysia.
- Assoc Prof Dr Hafizi Mohd Nor , Chairman of MyCare Malaysia
- Dr Sharif Abu Shammalah , Director Al Quds Foundation Malaysia
- Dato’ Dr Muhamad Ali Sk Abdul Kader
(Pertubuhan Ketamadunan, Pemikir dan Pemahaman Islam, P. Pinang Malaysia )
- Dr Mohammad Nur Manuty Wadah Pencerdasan Ummah
- Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz ,
President Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia .
- Prof Dr Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid
Political Science, University Science of Malaysia
- Prof Dr Nazari Ismail,
Faculty of Economics, Ujiversity Malaya, President of BDS Malaysia