A principal and his wife have been sacked from a college whose stated aim is to promote multiculturalism because they are white Christians, they claim.
Professor Malory Nye, 47, says he was dismissed from the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education in Dundee, Scotland, because his race and religion were seen by his superiors as a threat to its core Muslim values.
He says the college’s claims to pursuing multicultural values were a charade and that he was dismissed so he could be replaced by a Muslim.
His wife Isabel Campbell-Nye, 42, alleges she was forced from her position as head of the English language centre because she attracted too many students who were not Muslims or Arabs.
Dismissed: Malory Nye and his wife Isabel say Al-Maktoum College’s claim to promote multiculturalism was a charade
The independent college, whose patron is Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, 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’.
The couple are taking the college to an employment tribunal claiming racial and religious discrimination, and unfair dismissal.
Mrs Campbell-Nye is also claiming sex discrimination after she was suspended and later dismissed apparently because she is married to Prof Nye.
The couple, from Perth, were marched off the college grounds in June 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 chancellor of the College Lord Elder–a Labour peer and close friend of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown–for his handling of what they describe as a ‘sham’ disciplinary process.
Prof Nye and his wife began working at the college eight and four years ago respectively, choosing to marry on the campus last year.
However, they believe their attempts at pushing it in a more cosmopolitan direction angered their superiors. Prof Nye said his suspension came just days after he changed the college’s name from the ‘Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies’.
The couple 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 told the Telegraph: ‘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.’
Mrs Campbell-Nye says Mr Abubaker also wanted her removed from her position because she had attracted too many European and Asian students, who weren’t Muslim, to her English course at the college, which receives no public funding.
She said: ‘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 for places on its English language courses, the college closed the department last month, leaving its two remaining tutors redundant at Christmas.
The 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 dducation 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.’