Written by Student Rights on 2 February 2012 at 1pm

Hizb-ut-Tahrir Member to Speak at the University of Westminster

Over the last week Student Rights has received numerous emails from concerned students at Westminster University in relation to a debate that has been organised by the Global Ideas Society.

Entitled ‘Economic Future: The Real Solutions’, this event on the 16th of February features three speakers who will each put forward their views and proposed answers to the current financial crisis. What concerns those who have got in touch with us is the presence on the panel of Jamal Harwood, described as a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) both on the event Facebook page and on the HT website.

This invite has been extended despite the fact that the National Union of Students list HT as one of the organisations subject to their No-Platform policy, as Westminster University Student Union does not subscribe to this policy. Indeed, in February 2010 the university authorities cited this policy in an attempt to convince the Student Union to prevent Jamal Harwood from speaking but were unsuccessful.

Mr Harwood has been involved with the organisation for many years now, writing in their monthly magazine ‘Khilafah’ in the early years of the last decade, as well as being named as their Head of Legal Affairs on page 11 of the HT press information pack. He is also named as a former chairman of the HT Executive Committee by the website New Civilisation, an online opinion site which names Mr Harwood alongside two other senior HT figures as it's key contributors.  

His writings on New Civilisation focus mostly on economic issues, with an article published on January 27th providing an insight into the opinions he will air at the event. In this piece, called ‘A Real Radical Solution to the Financial Crisis’, Harwood proposes what he calls the “Islamic solutions” to the crisis. This includes a ban on interest and a return to the gold/silver standard as well as comprehensive land, welfare and tax reform. This focus on economic issues can also be seen in a report produced by HT, and apparently written by Harwood, in December 2011 in which he once again examines the issue of the gold standard.

That Harwood will likely be espousing Islamist economic ideas at this debate will hopefully be countered by the fact that he will be opposed by two other speakers. These are Dr Ola Sholarin, a lecturer at the Westminster Business School and Noel Doyle, an activist from the Occupy LSX movement. Whilst it is doubtful that Doyle will challenge Harwood’s virulent anti-capitalism, it is possible that Dr Sholarin will be able to provide a robust rebuttal of these ideas.

Student Rights will report, post-event with a keen interest especially following our experiences the last time an HT speaker was given a platform on a London campus. At an event featuring Dr Reza Pankhurst at Queen Mary University, the speaker who opposed his views was barracked by a highly partisan crowd, and it is worrying that several people involved in organising that event have confirmed on Facebook that they will be attending this one.  

Ultimately though, the balance provided so far and the fact that the Global Ideas Society has been inviting other groups at Westminster University like International Relations students suggests that this debate will not act as a recruitment event for Hizb-ut-Tahrir. However, Student Rights will be monitoring this situation closely so expect to see more on this story over the next few weeks.