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Written by Student Rights on 6 June 2011 at 12pm

Prevent review: steps in the right direction

Theresa-May415The recent comments made by the Home Secretary, appear to be the beginning of a strong stance on university extremism. Theresa May, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, stated that “universities were not taking the issue of radicalisation seriously enough”. 

We at Student Rights have been championing this perspective for the past two years and welcome this statement. May’s claim that universities have not been “campuses” gets to the heart of the issue.  Thus far when confronted about extremist activities on campuses, universities have hide behind weak excuses for their inaction. They cite the necessity to protect the freedom of speech and the autonomy of the student unions, which societies often involved in extremism are part of, all the while allowing extremism to be fostered on their campuses.

The Home Secretary will demand that universities “do more to confront this threat”.This shows that finally the Government are becoming more resolute with regards to dealing with extremism on campus. Student Rights now hopes the 40 universities which are at “particular risk” of student radicalisation on their campuses will no longer be permitted to neglect their duty to protect. The criticism of FOSIS, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, is another welcome aspect of the upcoming Prevent review.

FOSIS for a long while has played host to and has facilitated extremism. The key issue that Student Rights has been working to combat thus far is the prevalence of extremist preachers on campuses. Individuals harbouring hateful views have their right to proselytise on campuses ‘defended’ while they do so with the sole “objective of radicalising and recruiting students”. Groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir have been rightly named in the report as one of the key figures in such activity.

Hamza Tzortzis, until recently a member of the group, is regularly given platform on campuses and disseminates his venomous views. Individuals associated with Tzortzis, such as Abdur Raheem Green, are also often regular invited to speak at university Islamic societies. One of the starkest examples of the presence of Hizb-ut-Tahrir on campuses is the case of Reza Pankhurst. Pankhurst, who is a member of the London School of Economics teaching staff and has previously served jail time in Egypt for being a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, is still alleged to be a “senior figure” in the organisation.

The Prevent review displays progress in the fight against campus extremism and finally indicates that government policy is now nearing the right path. The status quo in universities has resulted in many instances of terror and the tacit neglect of campus extremism cannot be allowed to continue. The government is now making correct statements but it must take the right actions.