A MUSLIM academic at Glasgow University has said that she received a backlash from her “white peers” after criticising Scotland’s colonial past.

Writing in the London Review of Education, Nighet Riaz, equality, diversity and inclusion policy adviser at the University of Glasgow, said that ethnic minorities are viewed as an “undeserving deviant other” who have “to ‘prove’ they have the right to belong through assimilation” into British culture.

Riaz added that some parts of UK society took a hostile view of minorities.

She said: “We are fed a narrative by the state to comply with certain standards with the threat of surveillance under the label of safeguarding and the insidious removal of citizenship.”

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To support her argument, Riaz cited guidance from the UK Department for Education in 2015, which encouraged teaching staff to identify kids who could be vulnerable to extremist indoctrination and “build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values”.

She also referenced the Home Office’s threat to deport the children of Caribbean immigrants who came to the UK after the Second World War and were not given documentation to prove their settled status in the UK.

Riaz says that she has received backlash from her peers for highlighting Scotland’s roots in colonialism and has questioned whether the Curriculum For Excellence allows teachers the scope to criticise global injustices without disturbing Scotland’s “national narrative” and its “Europe-centred, colonial lens”.

She said: “The initial reaction of my Scottish white peers is very much to see this as an affront and an attack on the patriotism, history and culture of the West . . . lack of gratitude on my part for not recognising the place I have been given and impudence to question the status quo.”

Riaz has said her comments were a general observation and not meant to be directed at any particular individual at the University of Glasgow.

In the same publication, Professor Stephen McKinney and Lauren Boath, both from the university’s department of education, said that the global drive to “challenge white privilege” has “serious implications for Scotland”.

McKinney and Boath noted that Glasgow’s wealth had come from colonial practices, particularly that the city’s tobacco and sugar trades were “ultimately supplied by the work of slaves in the plantations”.

The University of Glasgow was the first in the UK to recognise that it had profited from wealth linked to slavery and has since constructed a package of reparations.

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The academics have supported proposals for teaching about Scotland’s involvement in slavery to be mandatory in Scottish schools.

They wrote: “It is not uncommon for young people to explore famous scientists . . . to what extent do we explore the less palatable aspects? We explore [James Watt’s] improvements to the steam engine [but] it is questionable if schools also explore his role in colonial commerce.”

They also cited the limited attention given to the “problematic views on race and genetics” expressed by James Watson, the American scientist of Scottish ancestry who co-discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

Watson was ostracised by the scientific community when he stood by his assertion that white people were intellectually superior to black people in 2019.

The academics said: “We can no longer remain silent on the question of why we do not discuss enough of the scientific greats who are not white. We need to explore and celebrate the role of people of colour.

“Perhaps the greatest danger with these gaps in knowledge is that it leaves learners with the idea that somehow white people are inherently better at science, more inventive and greater thinkers.”

Glasgow University has been contacted for comment.