Apostate accuses Oxford University of Islamic Bias

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Christina brought this to my attention. It started in the Sunday Times, but if you cannot peep behind their paywall enough has been repeated elsewhere; also the British Pakistani Christian Association are taking a helpful interest and put Mr Ashrafkhorasani? in touch with those who could help him.

A trainee Church of England priest at Oxford University has accused it of discrimination and bias after he says he was told he could not ask a lecturer critical questions about Islam.

The student has filed a formal complaint to the university’s proctors’ office in which he claims the lecturer pointed at him in a seminar and said: “Everybody can ask a question except you.”

The student, Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani, 33, is an Iranian-born convert from Islam who is set to become a Church of England priest in July, while the lecturer, Minlib Dallh, is a research fellow at Regent’s Park College in Oxford on a project about love in religion part-sponsored by the King of Jordan.

Mr Ashrafkhorasani, who studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, alleges the lecturer refused to allow him to ask critical questions about the description of Islam as a religion of peace and love, that Mr Dallh was expounding on. He believes  that Mr Dallh became cold and distant after being advised by Mr Ashrafkhorasani that he was a convert from Islam who had been persecuted in Iran. This discussion took place during a coffee break just before the final session of the lecture when the offensive targeting of Mr Ashrafkhorasani took place, during Q&A.

Three other students who were at the same lecture have also written to the proctors office to confirm Mr Ashrafkhorasani’s version of events.

Mr Ashrafkhorasani said: “The lecture was at best a very poor Islamic apologetic, and at worst academically dishonest and misleading. While the government is rightly concerned about Islamophobia, there is no concern whatsoever for Christianophobia.”

BPCA put Mr Ashrafkhorasani in contact with the Sunday Times, who interviewed, Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester and until last year a senior fellow at Wycliffe Hall.  He said: “There is an atmosphere of wanting to be politically correct. It is very widespread in the university as a whole. If people are taking money from these sources, that can limit the critical approach to the study of Islam and Muslim civilisation generally.”

In the same Sunday Times article, Robert Ellis, the principal of Regent’s Park College, said: “The college strongly rejects any assertion that donors have any influence over the quality of scholarship and direction of research at the centre, or that philanthropic funding in any way compromises academic discussion and argument.”

The Sunday Times also shared a comment from Oxford University, a representative said: “All complaints made to the proctors’ office are treated with the utmost seriousness and with the interests of the student paramount.”

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: 
” We have been advised that Mr Dallh, after expounding his lecture prohibited only Shahriar from speaking during a Q&A. Shahriar though upset complied with this request for the benefit of Oxford University. At the end of the session to highlight his chagrin and share his opinion. Shahriar asked for an opportunity to speak but was interrupted several times by university tutors, all of whom are said to have had no sympathy for Shahriar.

“This is despite Shahriar having very obvious personal and emotive experiences regarding the topic of discussion, having quit Islam because of the hate, and as Shahriar puts it ‘kaffirophobic’ ideology he found within it. If anything as a Muslim background believer his contribution to the discussion will have been very thought provoking and relevant.

“If the speaker had such fragile sensibilities then was it appropriate for him to speak on a topic that can ignite passions in such a way. The reaction by both university staff and Mr Dallh was simply an act of religious censorship.

There is a petition Stop Islamic bias at Oxford University here. Please sign it once you have finished reading. Hugh has written at length about the miserable Islamic bias appearing at Oxford University (it’s at other universities as well) which you can find using the search button on the Iconoclast front page. The Archbishop Cranmer blog has not made a comment yet but I am watching that front page.Christian priests with an Islamic background do seem to terrify academic and proselytising Muslims. Help – we have been rumbled…

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