SOAS boss is facing calls to quit after he used the N-word during video call with students

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The director of the School of Oriental and African Studies is facing mounting calls to quit after he used the N-word during a video call with students. 

Adam Habib had been discussing students' concerns about lecturers historically using the slur without repercussions despite complaints from black students that had been 'ignored' by the university in London.

The 56-year-old, who is of Indian descent, said during the webinar on Thursday: 'The issue around that... firstly, on the n*****, somebody making that allegation, then bring it to me. 

'I don't know the case, this is the first I've heard of it.'

Students challenged his use of the term which he rebutted before taking to Twitter with a lengthy 17-part statement.

There has since been widespread outrage with many, including the South Africa-based campaign group Economic Freedom Fighters, calling for the SOAS to sack Mr Habib.  

Adam Habib, 56, (pictured) had been discussing students' concerns about lecturers historically using the slur without repercussions

In the clip that has been circulating on Twitter Mr Habib, who could be seen in the centre square, said: 'The issue around that... firstly, on the n*****, somebody making that allegation, then bring it to me. 

'I don't know the case, this is the first I've heard of it.'

One of his students then cut him off to state: 'Adam, that's not acceptable to be saying that in a meeting.'

Another student said that they had taken offence to its use before Mr Habib replied: 'You do? Well, I don't actually. I come from a part of the world where we actually do use the word... The context matters.'

But one of his students once again added: 'You're not a black man, you cannot use that word. You have not faced the trauma and oppression of black bodies what we go through 24/7 for the last 500 years.

'You do not embody our history so therefore you cannot use the word.

'Many writers, even our own alumni, have written as to why – peers, non-black peers – should not use the n-word because when it comes from that perspective then it means a whole different story than when it comes from our own perspective which is the autonomy, agency and reclamation of our own history.' 

The 56-year-old (pictured centre), who is of Indian descent, used the racial slur during a webinar on Thursday

Shortly after the meeting Mr Habib took to social media with a 17-part thread in an attempt to justify his use of the slur before accusing critics of attempting to 'politicise the issue'.

The director, who was born in South Africa and appointed as SOAS director in January 2021, wrote: 'The question is why is it that after this apology, some are still politicising the issue?'

'So why don't I think it was problematic to use the word when I did. Well, because context matters and I was arguing for taking punitive action. 

'You cannot impute maligned intention without understanding context. Do I believe that only blacks can verbalize the word. No, I don't.'

Students at the university have since set up a petition calling for the removal, resignation or dismissal of Mr Habib within 31 days. 

It states that his actions are 'emblematic of the experience that black students go through at SOAS' and accuses the university of failing to address black students' concerns. 

Students at the university (pictured) have since set up a petition calling for the removal, resignation or dismissal of Mr Habib within 31 days

It adds that Mr Habib's behaviour and the silence from the trustees, who were also present in the meeting, is 'characteristic of the values that black students now understand SOAS to represent'. 

The SOAS student union has since said: 'What happened today was disgusting and we unequivocally reject it. We know Adam's history, we will hold him and @SOAS accountable.'

And South Africa-based campaign group Economic Freedom Fighters issued a passionate statement calling for the removal of Mr Habib for the use of the derogatory racial slur. 

MailOnline has since been told by a spokesperson for SOAS that Mr Habib emailed staff and students on Friday.

He wrote: 'As many of you are aware there has been a controversy that emanated from the all-student meeting yesterday in which I mentioned the n-word after a student query on a case in this regard.

'I want to apologise unreservedly for having done so. I do now recognise the hurt and distress that has been caused and will continue to listen.

'It may be helpful to explain the context in which the statement was made.

'During the meeting, a student questioned SOAS's responsiveness to anti-black racism and suggested that a staff member had used the word without consequences. I responded that: "If someone used the word [n-word] against another staff member, then it would violate our policy and action would be taken."

'I apologised, saying no offence had been intended, and reiterated that if the word was used against another person, it would be a disciplinary offence as it would violate our policies. Nevertheless I recognise that despite the context, many in our community were offended and hurt by the term. And for this I apologise unreservedly.

'I am sorry to have caused this controversy, and I am keen to work with the whole School on addressing the issues which will enable SOAS to achieve its mission in both the national and global community.'

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