Skip to content

Oxford student silenced for questioning Islam

Printer-friendly version

A student has accused Oxford University of discrimination and bias, after a lecturer told him he could not ask questions about Islam.

Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani is an Iranian-born convert from Islam and a master's student in applied theology at Wycliffe Hall. The 33-year-old is set to be ordained in the Church of England in July.

During a seminar about love in religion, the lecturer allegedly pointed at Ashrafkhorasani and said: "Everybody can ask a question except you". The student has filed a formal complaint.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who was a senior fellow at Wycliffe until last year, said that a "politically correct" atmosphere is "very widespread in the university as a whole".

Could not question Islam as 'religion of peace'

The lecturer, Minlib Dallh, is a research fellow at Regent's Park College in Oxford, on a project about love in religion. The project is partly being sponsored by the King of Jordan.

Ashrafkhorasani said that Dallh had discovered during a coffee break that he was a convert from Islam, who had been persecuted in Iran.

He said that Dallh refused to let him ask critical questions about the lecturer's description of Islam as a religion of love and peace.

'No concern for Christianophobia'

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

Three other students wrote to the proctors' office to confirm Ashrafkhorasani's story.

Act of religious censorship

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali commented: "If people are taking money from these sources, that can limit the critical approach to the study of Islam and Muslim civilisation generally."

Wilson Chowdhury of the British Pakistani Christian Association, which is advising Mr Ashrafkhorasani, said: "If anything as a Muslim background believer [Ashrafkhorasani's] contribution to the discussion will have been very thought provoking and relevant.

"The reaction by both university staff and Mr Dallh was simply an act of religious censorship.

"Universities should be places for open debate without restraint, this produces confident students who can handle any argument instead of creating a new wave of conformists." 

Related Links: 
Christian accuses Oxford of 'bias' (Times £)  


Subscribe to our emails