A controversial political scientist at St. Francis Xavier University has accused his bosses of being hypocritical, illiterate Islamophobes.
In an article published Monday by the Literary Review of Canada, Shiraz Dossa slammed the school's president and chancellor and accused the administration of vilifying his scholarly visit to a controversial Holocaust conference in Iran.
Mr. Dossa defended his visit to the December conference, which also attracted several Holocaust deniers. He faced criticism from the administration upon his return to Antigonish.
The tenured professor said he attended the event out of academic interest, as most presenters focused on the role the Holocaust plays in current Middle East politics, particularly in the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
He charges St. F.X. with sanctioning "a crusade against a Muslim Holocaust scholar."
"President (Sean) Riley and his supporters at St. F.X. bought the (Holocaust) denial fallacy (about the conference) that had been concocted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Jewish Defence League.
"It was the Zionists and the neo-Nazis who, for very different, self-serving reasons, depicted it as a Holocaust-denial conference and sold (that view) to willing, anti-Iranian Islamophobes."
But Mr. Riley stands by his decision to separate the university from Mr. Dossa's views.
"What a terrible thing to have the name of (our) university with a conference that had (been) tainted by a very clear and obvious invitation (to) those denying one of the great tragedies of human rights in the modern era," the university president said Monday.
"It was fairly clear that there was both a platform for revisionist and Holocaust-denial speakers (and) also a lament that even more Holocaust-denial participants hadn't shown up."
Mr. Riley said that while Mr. Dossa is entitled to his own view of the conference, he feels that the political scientist has downplayed the "vicious content" under discussion.
The St. F.X. president said he had taken "some time" to acquaint himself with the political content at the conference, citing the speech of the Iranian foreign affairs minister.
Manouchehr Mottaki addressed the 1,200 conference attendees, saying that academics who deny the Holocaust should not be persecuted for their views.
"Even if they prove that the Holocaust is a historical fact . . . they should answer if they are not challenging their own claims to promote freedom of expression by arresting scholars and researchers who maintain views different from theirs about the Holocaust," Mr. Mottaki said in his speech.
Mr. Dossa also accuses the St. F.X. administration of bowing to political pressure from prominent Jewish organizations and subjecting him to a "Spanish Inquisition," rather than examining the scholarly importance of the conference.
The president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers said it is the school's responsibility to stand behind its faculty members and fight for their academic pursuits.
"We're in favour of university teachers continuing research that creates controversy," said Chris Ferns of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.
"Some people might not like their findings . . . but when you start to censor research, you're at the start of a very slippery slope."
Mr. Dossa agrees.
"A university that tailors its teaching and research to the prejudices of its alumni . . . is a travesty."