St. FX professor accuses school of ‘Islamophobia’

  • June 5, 2007
{mosimage}The St. Francis Xavier University political science professor who made headlines in 2006 by attending an Iranian conference on the Holocaust along with leading Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis has accused Antigonish’s Bishop Raymond Lahey and St. Francis Xavier University of being the “distilled voice of Canadian Islamophobia” in an essay published in the Literary Review of Canada.
Prof. Shiraz Dossa defended his participation in the conference — widely seen as an attempt to justify wiping Israel off the map by either denying or minimizing the Holocaust and attended by Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers such as David Duke, Robert Faurisson, Patrick McNally and Frederick Toben — in the June 2007 issue of the Literary Review of Canada, an academic journal.

Dossa, a tenured professor at St. FX who teaches courses on Third World politics and the history of political thought, claims “St. FX in effect sanctioned a crusade against a Muslim Holocaust scholar, who also happens to be an outspoken critic of Israel’s brutality in occupied Palestine.”

Lahey and St. Francis Xavier President Dr. Sean Riley were unavailable for comment at The Register’s press time.

{sidebar id=2}A number of scholars from the small Catholic university in Nova Scotia signed a petition condemning the Tehran conference and Dossa’s participation in it. In a letter to The Globe and Mail, Lahey, as chancellor of St. Francis Xavier, expressed the university’s embarrassment at having one of its professors lend legitimacy to a conference whose political purpose was delegitimizing Israel by rewriting history.

Dossa is trying to defend the indefensible, said Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber.

“No credible academic worth his salt would have stayed in the same room with these people at a so-called conference,” Farber told The Catholic Register.

By Dossa’s count, six of the 33 papers presented at the Tehran conference denied outright that the systematic slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazi government of Germany during the Second World War ever happened. Despite invitations to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Duke and Australian Holocaust denier Toben, Dossa claims the Iranian conference last December was not a Holocaust denial conference.

“It was a Global South conference convened to devise an intellectual/political response to Western-Israeli intervention in Muslim affairs,” he wrote. “Holocaust deniers/skeptics were a fringe, marginal few at the conference. The majority of the papers focused on the use and abuse of the Holocaust in Arab, Muslim, Israeli and Western politics, a serious and worthy subject for international academic discussion.”

“He can obfuscate and he can defend all he wishes,” said Farber. “When you separate the wheat from the chaff he stayed at a conference populated by the most internationally known racists and bigots in the world. For that alone he should be condemned.”

Farber also laughs off the idea Dossa has endured a crusade, or a Christian attack on Muslims.

“My belief and my view is that the academics who criticized him, and roundly criticized him, did so because of who he attended with and what this conference was about. I don’t think it has anything to do with their faith, or their ethnicity, or anything else,” said Farber.

Dossa has been a professor at St. FX since 1988. No disciplinary action has been taken against him.

“Academic freedom is sacrosanct, I agree,” said Farber. “But with academic freedom comes academic responsibility. If you’re going to attend a conference that has as part of its participants racists and bigots, you have to be prepared to take the heat that is going to engender.”

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