TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A professor who jokingly listed 52 cultural sites in America that Iran should bomb has been fired from his job at a private Massachusetts college.
US President Donald Trump claimed on January 4 that the US had earmarked 52 Iranian cultural sites for destruction – warning the country not to strike back after Washington assassinated Iran’s top commander, Lt. General Qassem Soleimani, last week.
Trump appeared to backtrack on those comments on Tuesday, probably because attacks against cultural property are a violation of the rules of warfare stated by the Hague Convention.
But following Trump’s post, Professor Asheen Phansey posted to his own Facebook page, saying Iran should tweet a list of 52 sites of cultural American heritage that would bomb.
The Facebook post, which has since been deleted, was subject to a “prompt and thorough investigation” by Babson College, also Phansey’s alma mater.
On Wednesday, Phansey apologized through his attorney for the Facebook post, saying it was a poor attempt to poke fun at the United States’ lack of history. The statement said the post was a “bad attempt at humor” rather than an incitement to violence.
“I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat … I am completely opposed to violence and would never advocate it by anyone,” the statement said.
Babson College announced on Thursday that Phansey was no longer employed by the college, as a result of the investigation into his Facebook post. The statement read “(The Facebook post) does not represent the values and culture of the College. Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate.”
Phansey released a statement on Thursday evening, saying that he was “disappointed” at the decision to terminate his employment.
“I am disappointed and saddened that Babson has decided to abruptly terminate my 15-year relationship with the college just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to my friends on Facebook.”
He said that he loved the institution, had put much into it and hoped it “would have defended and supported my right to free speech”.
He added that the incident gave him cause for concern about freedom of speech.
“Beyond my own situation, I am really concerned about what this portends for our ability as Americans to engage in political discourse without presuming the worst about each other.”