Dr Adam Perkins, a neurobiology lecturer at King’s College London (KCL), was branded “racist” after he tweeted that people from the seven banned nations “tend to be over-represented in crime and unemployment status”.
The academic used crime and unemployment figures from Norway, Finland and Denmark as “evidence” for his argument in support of the controversial ban which has since been suspended by a federal judge.
More than 400 students signed a petition organised by the KCL Somali Society demanding an apology from Perkins, calling his statements “shameful bigotry and stigmatisation of minority groups”.
“Adam Perkins is a reminder that where bigotry and Islamophobia is empowered through political systems, it is further justified and adopted as a legitimate ideology,’ the students claimed.
“Perkins’ racist and divisive statements that specific groups are ‘statistically’ likely to cause more crime is both redundant and toxically offensive,” the petition read.
“Statistics is nothing without context, yet Perkins, despite this, exasperates the shocking level of hatred and ostracisation of minority groups, in particular Somalis as expressed on his public Twitter forum.”
The professor had claimed t“Somalians don’t perform well either side of the Atlantic” when one Twitter user pointed out that he had used data from outside of the US to support his argument.
KCL’s intersectional feminist society also spoke out against Perkins’ comments, calling them “racist” and “absurd”.
One member wrote: “As a British Somali, born from Somali refugees who have worked since DAY ONE upon entering this country, haven’t claimed a single penny in social benefits from the government, speaking little English, the fact that this lecturer can generalise is the most angry I have felt in a very long time.
“How dare you.”
Perkins, who has worked at KCL since 2010, has since “wholeheartedly” apologised for any offence caused by his tweets, saying they were part of an “ongoing effort to understand disadvantage”.
“Research on individual differences variables, including personality, inevitably entails addressing sensitive topics and scientists should be at liberty to address challenging scientific questions,” the personality expert wrote.
“I now realise that such discussions of data need to be conducted with extra care and context.”
A KCL spokesperson said that Perkins had been spoken to about his behaviour by an executive dean at the university.
“King’s is aware of recent posts on social media by Dr Adam Perkins which have offended some members of our community.
“We value and uphold the principle of academic freedom, however we are equally committed to welcoming a diverse and inclusive staff and student population.”
Perkins’ work has also attracted controversy in the past.
A speech he was due to give at LSE last year was shut down by protestors after he argued that welfare dependency could be “bred out”.
In his book, The Welfare Trait, he states that: “individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and antisocial personality characteristics are over-represented among welfare claimants”.