SOAS lecturer elected as MEP for German far-right AfD party

A law lecturer at SOAS, Dr. Gunnar Beck, has won a seat representing the German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in the European Parliament. Their manifesto argues that Islam is a “Danger for Europe” and that LGBTQ+ visibility is a sign of a decline in society.

Dr. Beck is among ten AfD candidates to win seats thanks to the party getting 11 per cent of the vote share across Germany. The AfD will become Germany’s fourth largest party in the European Parliament.

AfD received 8.5 per cent of the vote share in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Dr. Beck is based.

His campaign has been marred by controversies both in Germany and at SOAS. In Germany, Dr. Beck’s campaign gained widespread media attention after it emerged that he was listed as “Prof Dr Gunnar Beck” on ballot papers, despite never having received a professorship from any university.

Dr. Beck teaches courses in EU law, legal theory and legal methodology.

At a protest outside SOAS in Central London, some of his students came forward to complain that he had made xenophobic, misogynistic and transphobic remarks in the classroom. Several students said that complaints were made almost a year ago against Dr. Beck to the SOAS School of Law, but that no action was ever taken.

Responding to Dr. Beck’s election win, one student who wished to remain anonymous told London Student that SOAS is to blame for allowing far-right ideologies to emerge on campus. They said:

“All the decolonising work that SOAS has done, which comes mostly from its students, means very little when an elected member of a far-right party, who students have complained about for years, is allowed to be on campus and continues to grade our work… He’s been here for years and nothing has been done by SOAS or the School of Law about his Islamophobia, misogyny, queerphobia, jokes about rape or insensitivity about the German holocaust.”

Earlier this year, students called for the Brunei Gallery to be renamed in a protest against anti-LGBT stoning laws in Brunei. A Crisis SOAS advocate told us that putting a rainbow flag on the building didn’t feel like strong enough action. They said that the university’s response was feeble and is “linked to the fact that someone extremely transphobic [like Beck] is allowed to stay at SOAS.”

London Student has approached SOAS and Dr. Beck for comment.

Will is London Student's Features Editor. He has recently completed a BA History at SOAS, and you might find him hiding in a library around Bloomsbury.

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