A college which aims to promote multiculturalism has been thrust into a race row amid allegations that its principal and his wife were sacked for being white Christians.
Professor Malory Nye, 47, claims he was dismissed from his job at the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education in Dundee, Scotland, because its hierarchy viewed his race and religion as a threat to its Muslim values.
His wife Isabel Campbell-Nye, 42, alleges she was also forced out of her position as head of the college’s English language centre because she brought in too many students who were not Muslims or Arabs.
The independent college, sponsored by the Dubai royal family, advertises itself as a research-led institution “that promotes a greater understanding of different religions and cultures in a multicultural context, for the benefit of the wider community”.
However, the couple allege that its claims of multiculturalism were a charade and that Prof Nye was dismissed to make way for a Muslim replacement.
They are taking the college to an employment tribunal claiming racial and religious discrimination, and unfair dismissal.
Mrs Campbell-Nye is also claiming sex discrimination on the grounds that she was allegedly suspended and later dismissed because she is married to Prof Nye.
Prof Nye and his wife began working at the college eight and four years ago respectively and were so happy there that they chose to marry on the campus last year.
However, they believe they fell out of favour with leaders at the college, whose patron is Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, over fears they were pushing it in a more cosmopolitan direction.
They allege that Abubaker Abubaker, the director of operations, and Mirza al-Sayegh, chairman of its board of directors and private secretary to the Sheikh, decided to force them out because they were British, white and Christian.
Prof Nye said: “It is clear to me that there is collusion between these two individuals that I should be removed from my position on the basis that I am not an Arab and not a Muslim and that the person who has the role of principal should be Arab and/or Muslim.
“Multiculturalism and respect for cultural and religious differences are, I had thought, core values of the college.
“However, I believe that such inclusive multiculturalism no longer fits the particular type of multicultural vision of certain managers and the chairman, that is accepting of different cultures, so long as the majority of students are Muslims and/or Arabs and the ethos is distinctly Islamic.
“My face and lack of Muslim faith no longer fit.”
He said his suspension also came just days after he changed the college’s name from its former title: Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies.
The couple, from Perth, were frogmarched off the college grounds in June and suspended and have not been allowed to return since.
They claim they were given no reason for their suspensions and were dismissed in November despite no evidence of any wrongdoing.
The couple have also lodged grievances against the Labour peer Lord Elder, Chancellor of the college and a close friend of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for his handling of what they describe as a "sham" disciplinary process.
Mrs Campbell-Nye claims Mr Abubaker also sought to remove her because she had attracted too many non-Muslim, European and Asian students to study English at the college.
“Some are from Arab and other Muslim backgrounds. However, a substantial number are from other parts of the world and other cultures.
“I believe Mr Abubaker does not feel happy with us recruiting students from these backgrounds as it does not fit the particular multicultural vision he has for English language.
“The only times Mr Abubaker has encouraged me to bring in students to English language are when they are Arabs or Muslims.
“I believe that Mr Abubaker’s discrimination against me, because I am not Muslim, I am not Arab, and I am also a woman – and because I have brought a number of non Muslim/non-Arab students to the college – is a significant reason for my suspension.”
Despite a waiting list to get on its English language courses, the college abruptly closed the department last month, leaving its two remaining tutors redundant at Christmas.
The independent college, which operates as a charity in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, advertises in its prospectus that “multiculturalism is at the centre of our vision and structure”.
“Our multicultural ethos is visibly translated and implemented in our day-to-day operation. Our staff and students come from diverse national, cultural and religious backgrounds including Muslims and non-Muslims,” it says.
A spokesman for the college said: “We can confirm that we have been notified that Employment Tribunal proceedings have been raised in the name of Professor Malory Nye and his wife, Isabel Campbell-Nye.
"The College, an independent, not-for-profit charity, places diversity, religious pluralism and multiculturalism firmly at the core of its Higher Education programmes – and its day-to-day activities," the spokesman said.
“The Al-Maktoum College will vigorously defend its reputation as a centre of excellence within the higher education sector and the good name it has won over the last ten years here in Dundee, nationally and internationally.
“Professor Nye was dismissed from his post as Principal at the College following a period of suspension on full pay and an inquiry conducted by the College Chancellor.
“Contingency plans were put in place to ensure the continued smooth running of the College.
“We are in consultation with our team of legal advisers and, as a result, we are not in a position to discuss the matter further at this stage.”
Friday, December 30, 2011
Scottish college principal and his wife claim they were sacked for being white Christians
So far, these are just allegations, but stay tuned for further developments. As reported by Murray Wardrop of the London Daily Telegraph on December 30, 2011: