Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka has ordered a probe against its Professor who made a jibe at a Muslim student and called him by the name of a terrorist. The remark infuriated the student, who called out the professor for his casual Islamophobia and this was caught on camera by another student.
Initially, the video surfaced online and it was unconfirmed that the same was from Manipal University, however the news gained traction as many news media outlets reported on the same and it was confirmed that the incident took place at Manipal University.
As this incident got reportedly widely, Manipal University administration took note and immediately debarred him from taking classes and then ordered a probe. The professor had asked the student his name, and on hearing the name, he remarked: “Oh you are like Kasab”, NDTV reported. He was referring to Ajmal Kasab who was convicted and later hanged to death on various charges including murder, for his involvement in the terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008 that happened in Mumbai.
In the video, the student can be seen defending himself and telling the professor that he cannot speak about Muslim in such a derogatory manner and the professor seemed flustered and was apologizing seeing that the student got offended by his “joke”. The student said, “it’s not funny, 26/11 was not funny, Islamic terrorism is not funny. Being a Muslim in this country and facing this everyday is not funny.”
When the professor said, you are just like my son, the student responded, “ will you talk to your son like that and call him a terrorist? How can you call me like that in front of so many people, in the class. You are a professional you are teaching. You can’t call me like that.” The professor sounded clearly embarrassed and said sorry to which the student, “Sir, sorry doesn’t change the way you think or how you portray yourself”.
This incident is nothing but a depiction of casual, legitimised, Islamophobia in our everyday discourse that we need to address and speak up against. Casual Islamophobia can take a form of stereotyping, avoiding buying goods from Muslim vendors/shops, socially distancing from Muslims, making jokes about Muslims and their culture in private circles, depicting Muslims as “villains” in popular culture, using the ‘go to Pakistan’ or ‘love jihad’ trope casually, are all subtle forms of Islamophobia that one needs to speak against.
The fact that this professor felt that it was acceptable to crack some joke about Muslim being terrorists in a classroom setting is reflective of how, we as a society, have normalized laughing at the expense of Muslim community without realizing how precarious it can be, as one can end up hurting religious sentiments; which is not only an offence under the Indian Penal Code but also stand to erode our culturally diverse society.
The prompt action from the University is welcome, demonstrating that such abhorrent remarks are unwelcome in an educational institution and could serve as a deterrent. However, the awkward amusement from fellow students who also did not speak up, is concerning.
The public relations officer at the Manipal University, SP Kar, told Scroll that the incident was unfortunate and the institution strongly condemns it.
“An enquiry committee has been set up and for now the faculty is debarred from taking the classes,” Kar said. “A suitable way forward would be taken based on the findings. We are really sorry that this kind of incident happened.”
The University even released a statement on Monday and posted on its Twitter account
— MIT MANIPAL (@MIT_MANIPAL) November 28, 2022
The University says that it prides itself with one of the biggest diversity on campus and is committed to uphold constitutional values of treating everyone alike irrespective of their caste, religion, region, gender etc.