A Scottish university is “considering its position” in regards the awarding of an honorary degree to US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Current Robert Gordon University principal, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, has been asked to strip the business tycoon of the honour in the wake of his comments regarding Muslioms being prevented entry to the US.
His comments were absolutely intolerant, Islamophobic and bigoted and it is very worrying to think that he could become President of the United StatesIhram Iqbal
Thousands have signed a petition demanding the degree be taken away “with immediate effect”.
More than 4,000 people signed the online petition, claiming the US presidential candidate is guilty of “unrepentant, persistent verbal attacks on various groups of people”.
A spokesman for Robert Gordon University said: “Mr Trump’s honorary degree was awarded in 2010. Business and entrepreneurship are key areas of focus for the university, and Mr Trump is recognised for these activities (including his investment in the North-East of Scotland).
“This award was made prior to the appointment of RGU’s current Principal, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, who is considering the position. “He is totally committed to equality of opportunity and to respect for different cultures, values which are an important part of RGU’s ethos.”
Trump has courted controversy after proposing that Muslims be prevented from entering the US and calling for a wall to be built on the border with Mexico.
Follwoing his latest comments on Muslims a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister completely disagrees with the comments made by Donald Trump, which are divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
Us Republican rival Jeb Bush described Mr Trump, who owns golf courses in Aberdeenshire and South Ayrshire, as “unhinged” and his proposals as “not serious”.
The petition takes issue with the university’s association with the business tycoon throughout his campaign.
It said: “We feel that Donald Trump’s unrepentant, persistent verbal attacks on various groups of people based on nationality, religion, race and physical abilities are a huge detriment to RGU.
“Hate speech must not have a place in academia, in politics or on the world stage.
“We are confident RGU will agree with the petitioners, and act swiftly.”
Spokeswoman for the university’s Islamic Society, Ihram Iqbal, 20, welcomed the petition.
She said: “His comments were absolutely intolerant, Islamophobic and bigoted and it is very worrying to think that he could become President of the United States.
“Anyone with such views should not hold any title - let alone one from our respected university. We certainly welcome the petition.
“Donald Trump has his own views with regards to Islam and they’re very misguided. Islam does not stand for hatred and he is trying to mislead the public.”
The award of the degree even led to the university’s former principal, Dr David Kennedy, handing back his own honorary doctorate in 2010.
Donald Trump had been in Aberdeen at the time as part of his plans for the #1 billion golf course at the Menie Estate.
But his stance on windfarms and wildlife in the protected area drew criticism.
Dr David Kennedy, principal of RGU between 1987-97, had described Mr Trump’s behaviour in the north-east of Scotland as “deplorable”.
He said, in September 2010: “Mr Trump is simply not a suitable person to be given an honorary degree and he should not be held up as an example of how to conduct business.
“Mr Trump’s behaviour in north-east Scotland has been deplorable from the first, particularly in how he has treated his neighbours.
“The university needs to realise how strongly people feel about this issue.
“I can think of no better way to express my anger at the decision to honour Mr Trump than to return my own honorary doctorate to the university.
“I would not want to hold the award after Mr Trump has received his.”