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Protests at SOAS against extreme right-wing German party

17 May 2019

Staff and students at SOAS will stage a protest at the university today at 2pm against the extreme right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the support for AfD by SOAS law lecturer, Gunnar Beck, who is standing for the party in the forthcoming European elections.

The University and College Union (UCU) is supporting the protests and has expressed its shock that SOAS academic Gunnar Beck is involved with a party that it says is at clear odds with the university's values of diversity and internationalism. 

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said: 'The AfD is an extreme right-wing, racist, anti-immigration party that has no place on UK campuses.

'We are shocked that a member of academic staff from SOAS could be involved with a party like this which stands for policies utterly incompatible with the values of diversity, tolerance and internationalism at the very heart of SOAS as an institution.'

Members of the School of Law at SOAS where Beck teaches has issued a statement saying they are vehemently opposed to the AfD and distance themselves entirely from those who support them. They say they are appalled that one of their colleagues has chosen to associate with the AfD and they are speaking out because they recognise the importance of not being complicit in the normalisation of reactionary, right-wing populism.  

Statement from members at the School of Law

To our students and colleagues at SOAS

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.

Last updated: 17 May 2019