His appointment probably seemed like a golden politically correct photo-op at the time. “Ayatollah of the RAF: Academic ‘university’ head is Muslim convert who claims Nazi gas chambers were British propaganda and criticises Libya air strikes,” by Ian Gallagher for the Daily Mail, August 7:
The head of studies at the Royal Air Force pilot training college is a convert to Islam who has criticised Nato air strikes on Libya in a Muslim magazine.
Dr Joel Hayward is dean of the college at Cranwell, the RAF”s equivalent of Sandhurst, and has taught many of the pilots spearheading the military operation against Colonel Gaddafi.
But, to the dismay of defence chiefs, he has cast doubt on the widely held belief that the Nato actions averted the mass killing of civilians in Benghazi. He also warned against the RAF becoming “˜the air corps of a rebel army”. […]
The latter issue is the least provocative of his views. Here is what is truly troubling:
His views and behaviour have caused disquiet among senior officers at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, where he is the most senior academic and taught Prince William.
In a letter to The Mail on Sunday entitled The Air Force Ayatollah, one senior officer expressed concern that Dr Hayward was focusing more on “˜Islamist activities that are nothing to do with the RAF”.
He also accused him of giving Muslim cadets preferential treatment and making other students take a “˜softly, softly line when writing about Muslim terrorists/Islamist extremists”.
Another officer claimed cadets and lecturers “˜are in fear” of expressing anything that might be construed as anti-Muslim sentiment. “˜Anyone who fails to follow the line that Islam is a peace-loving religion is hauled into his office for re-education,” he said.
Last night Dr Hayward said he did not “˜recognise” the allegations.
The Mail on Sunday understands that Dr Hayward’s views have embarrassed RAF chiefs, who feel that while he is entitled to his opinions, it was unwise for him to air them in a Muslim magazine.
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, former chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said: “˜I am delighted that the dean is not restricted in what he can say, as he would be in Islamist societies.
“˜However, I very much hope that his views don’t conflict with any of his professional duties when teaching Her Majesty”s officers.”
Hope, as the military adage goes, is not a method. Either there is a conflict of interest, or there isn’t, and hoping isn’t the way to make an official determination.
It is not the first time the New Zealand-born academic has attracted controversy. In 2000, he was accused of denying the Holocaust after the publication of a thesis he had written in 1993 questioning the number of Jews killed. He claimed the idea of gas chambers being used was propaganda invented by Britain, the US and Jewish lobbyists. He has since expressed remorse over the “˜mistakes I made as an inexperienced student”.
Dr Hayward has frequently challenged claims of Islamic aggressiveness. Most recently, he wrote on the subject for the Cordoba Foundation, described by David Cameron as a front for the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. In that article, Dr Hayward likens the prophet Mohammed’s inspirational qualities to that of Sir Winston Churchill. He said Mohammed had to go to extra lengths — just as Churchill did in the Second World War – to exhort his people to believe in victory and fight for it.
Ironic: surely he is aware of Churchill’s opinions on Muhammad’s religion.
Dr Hayward was appointed to RAF Cranwell in 2007, but was investigated the following year over complaints of “˜harassment and bullying”. It is not clear what became of the investigation. He is employed not by the RAF but by King’s College, London, which runs academic courses at Cranwell….