Barbara Kay: Did #MeToo activists target a top Canadian prof for his blunt lessons about Islam?

McGill University, my grad school alma mater, has, in my opinion, acted dishonourably in a recent and unusual case of tenure denial to a brilliant and popular professor.

Assistant Professor Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim of McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies.

When I learned of Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim’s story, I was fortunate to receive a remarkable trove of evidence: his supporting documents for a defamation lawsuit he launched this summer against a student and a professor in his department who, he alleges, helped ensure his denial of tenure. He believes he was targeted for not being politically correct enough in teaching about Islam.

The documents, which will eventually be publicly accessible, include reports from the tenure committee — one from the majority that denied him and one from the supportive minority — as well as internal emails, testimonials, affidavits, and petitions for and against Ibrahim’s tenure. Taken together, they come across as a classic scenario of panicky academic scapegoating to appease a few strident activists.

Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim was born and raised in Cairo. His working-class people are Sufi Muslims. A gifted student, he was the first member of his family to attend university. As the highest-performing student in his B.A. cohort, he was able to secure a position as a lecturer at Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, a source of radiant pride to his parents. After a stint as a journalist — he was the Cairo correspondent for the Middle East Times and a reporter for an Arabic-language newspaper — Ibrahim did his doctoral studies in the U.S., after which, in 2012, he was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor, specializing in Islamic Law at McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS).

Ibrahim says he has tried and failed to find evidence of any other denial of tenure in the institute’s 66-year history. It was a stunning blow. His contract is set to run out in June 2019, but he was not assigned classes to teach this semester. Julius Grey, a familiar and highly respected name in human rights law in Quebec, is representing Ibrahim in his defamation suit. He believes the evidence is “solid.” I spoke with Grey about the phenomenon of “mobbing’ in general. Like many other observers of the phenomenon, he is baffled by the cultural moment we inhabit, especially in academia, where “the presumption of innocence seems to have gone completely by the boards,” and “where mobbing appears to be authorized and effective.”

Ibrahim would appear to be an outstanding scholar in his field. His publication record includes 10 journal articles, several book chapters and two books, among other things. A 2014 evaluation written by Christopher Manfredi, then the dean of arts and now McGill’s provost, said: “Prof. Ibrahim has compiled an impressive research and teaching record that would already count as superior in a tenure recommendation.”

Ibrahim’s popularity is reflected in the size of his classes. Records provided by Ibrahim and alluded to in the tenure committee’s report show that numbers in his 300-level Islamic law course far outstrip other professors’ classes.

His department “service” …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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