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Professor sacked for Iran bomb ‘joke’

The professor deleted his post, but not before it was captured in a screengrab and circulated on social media

By Derrick Bryson Taylor/New York Times News Service in New York
  • Published 13.01.20, 2:56 AM
  • Updated 13.01.20, 2:56 AM
  • a min read
Asheen Phansey Telegraph picture

An adjunct professor at a Massachusetts college has been fired after posting on Facebook what he described as a joke suggesting that Iran pick sites in the US to bomb, in a case that has stirred debate about free speech on college campuses

The professor, Asheen Phansey, wrote on his personal Facebook page on January 5 that Iran’s supreme leader should “tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb”, suggesting the Mall of America in Minnesota and a Kardashian residence as targets, Judy Rakowsky, a spokesperson for Phansey, said on Saturday.

The post was a response to President Donald Trump’s comments that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated against the US for killing one of its top generals.

Phansey deleted his post, but not before it was captured in a screengrab and circulated on social media with the school’s phone number.

“Why does @Babson ‘College’ have an America-hating terrorist supporter on their payroll. Ask them!” said one widely shared tweet.

Babson has said in statement that it condemned “any type of threatening words” and “actions condoning violence”.

“This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College,” it said.

Phansey said in a statement that he regretted his “bad attempt at humour”.

“As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our ‘cultural sites’ with ancient Iranian churches and mosques,” he said, adding that he was opposed to violence. “I am sorry that my sloppy humour was read as a threat.”

Phansey’s lawyer, Jeffrey Pyle, said on Saturday: “I saw a number of messages saying Asheen should be deported as well as prosecuted and fired. Asheen was born in the US, he is of South Asian origin,” he said, adding that some assumed his client was Iranian or from West Asia.