Monday 14 October 2019

Lecturer at centre of FGM row unfairly dismissed

Protests: Dr Ali Selim’s classes were boycotted by TCD students. Photo: Tom Burke
Protests: Dr Ali Selim’s classes were boycotted by TCD students. Photo: Tom Burke

Gordon Deegan

A university lecturer at the centre of controversy last year over TV comments he made about female genital mutilation (FGM) has won his unfair dismissal case against Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

In the case, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Penelope McGrath ordered TCD pay Arabic lecturer Dr Ali Selim a total of €6,144 after finding he was unfairly dismissed last September.

He is a leading figure in the Irish Muslim community.

The dismissal came seven months after comments Dr Selim made on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' on female circumcision sparked widespread criticism.

Dr Selim told 'Prime Time' female circumcision is acceptable in some cases where it is carried out by a doctor and in a safe environment. Days later, he apologised and stated that he condemned FGM in the strongest terms.

Referring to the controversy in her findings, Ms McGrath stated Dr Selim "got caught up in a wave of negative publicity" arising from the 'Prime Time' comments.

Ms McGrath stated Dr Selim had subsequently asserted he had been misinterpreted but "there can be no doubt that the damage had already been done. Students protested and boycotted his classes".

In the days afterwards, TCD confirmed that a different lecturer would teach Dr Selim's Arabic language students who were offended by his remarks on television.

In September 2018, TCD told Dr Selim his services were no longer required.

TCD told the WRC Dr Selim's core subjects were not being availed of by the student body.

Ms McGrath found Dr Selim has "made an almost irresistible connection" between the public outcry he admitted he himself created and the subsequent move - as he perceived it - by TCD. TCD emphatically denied there was any nexus between the two. However, Ms McGrath found TCD's actions were "inadequate".

A TCD spokeswoman stated it did not comment on individual staff matters.

Dr Selim was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News