CW: Mention of abortion, hate speech
Yesterday afternoon, it was brought to our attention that an academic at SOAS is running for a seat in the European Parliamentary Elections and is running as a representative for AfD (Alternative for Deustchland), an ultra far right party.
Dr Gunnar Beck is a reader in the Law Department and teaches courses on EU Law and legal theory. He is an active member of the School, taking part in programmes on Widening Participation as well as being departmental careers tutor. He is believed to have been a member of the AfD since 2014. The AfD is known to be anti-immigration, anti-asylum, anti-abortion, homophobic, Islamophobic and Anti-Semitic. It also wishes to reinstate conscription for men aged 18 and is sceptical of climate change. The party stands for everything SOAS stands against.
Though we are forced to respect people’s political freedom, we can call into question why an academic who stands with a party with such hostile views wants to be a part of the SOAS community and teach students who hold and support so many of the identities he wants to see diminished.
We second everything that colleagues* in the Law Department have said in the following statement circulated earlier today:
“We, members of the School of Law at SOAS University of London, are deeply dismayed that one of our colleagues, Gunnar Beck, is standing for election to the European Parliament as a candidate for the German party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The AfD is widely recognised as a far-right, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and reactionary party.
“The AfD declares that Islam is foreign to Germany, seeks to ban manifestations of Islamic faith and attire, opposes immigration from Muslim countries, and generally opposes what a representative has called the “Islamization of the Western World”. The party and its supporters have organised demonstrations against immigrants.
In January 2019 it was reported that “Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is to step up monitoring of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for suspected extremism” and that “statements by AfD leaders have been condemned as encouraging neo-Nazi extremism”. The ultra-nationalism of the party is reflected in its rejection of the culture of “shame” over Nazi history and its call for a revival of national pride. Its election manifestos have proposed a myriad of reactionary laws and policies which could disadvantage disabled children, single parents, and other minority and marginalised groups.
We would like to express our vehement opposition to this party and its policies, and distance ourselves entirely from those who advocate and support them. We are appalled that one of our colleagues has chosen to associate with this party. We are speaking out because we recognise the importance of not being complicit in the normalisation of reactionary, right-wing populism. We regard the AfD’s views as utterly incompatible with our basic values of equality, acceptance, and non-discrimination, and with our commitment to ensure dignity and respect for all students and staff at SOAS.”
Love and solidarity,
Hau-Yu, Soph and Youssra xxx
*Signed: Paul O’Connell, Nimer Sultany, Samia Bano, Brenna Bhandar, Matt Craven, Catriona Drew, Kate Grady, Vanja Hamzic, Mayur Suresh, Gina Heathcote, Paul Kohler, Kanika Sharma, Lynn Welchman, Philippe Cullet, Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Mashood Baderin, Lucy King, Sarah Elibiary, Lucia Kula, Sarah Parkes, Anne Street, Emilia Onyema, Martin Lau, Ian Edge, Carol Tan, Riccardo Labianco, Sara Bertotti, Scott Newton, Lutz Oette and Jonathan Ercanbrack