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Written by Student Rights on 7 June 2011 at 3pm

Heads in the sand - universities and extremism

British Home Secretary Theresa May has stated that universities are “complacent” with regards to campus extremism and that the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) have not challenged “extremism sufficiently”. 

May’s statements are correct. Universities and FOSIS have had their ‘head in the sand’ regarding campus extremism and it appears that they do not wish to remove it anytime soon.FOSIS has said that the accusations are “false and unjustified” and that they have taken action against extremism.

This argument can be dismissed as they are hosting extremists, such as Muhammad al-Kawthari, at their upcoming annual conference. Universities as well have moved swiftly to defend themselves. The University of Birmingham stated that it took the threat of extremism “very seriously”.

They have also claimed they “will continue to actively challenge discrimination of any kind”, just as it did when it gave platform to Abu Usamah ath-Thahabi, an individual who has stated, “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man ….and throw him off the mountain”.

The chief executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, offered an equally mendacious statement, saying, “I simply don't recognise this description of universities as being complacent about terrorism”, and that “there is absolutely no place in universities for speakers who encourage violence”. If you again look at the ath-Thahabi example you can plainly see the vacuousness of this statement.

One hopes that when the Prevent review is released it will mean that finally universities and FOSIS have to take strong action against extremism, as thus far they have been more than willing to avoid any such duty.