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Written by Student Rights on 16 February 2012 at 5pm

Huffington Post UK: FOSIS obscure extremism on campuses

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post UK. Please click here to read it on the Huffington Post website.

Rupert Sutton

 
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FOSIS Dodge the Issue of Campus Radicalisation Once Again

Posted: 16/02/2012 14:11

 

The article published on this website yesterday by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) spokesman Amandla Thomas-Johnson has attempted to suggest that there is a concerted attempt by groups like Student Rights to smear Muslim students as extremists. This is itself a smear on the work of groups which have been investigating this issue, and not only misrepresents the conclusions of the Home Affairs Select Committee Report he has based his article on, but also the situation on university campuses themselves.

The report states that "we are not convinced that extremists on campus are always subject to equal and robust challenge", and has called for more help to be provided to universities in order to enable them to make informed decisions about extremist speakers yet Mr Thomas-Johnson suggests that by focusing on the issue we are perverting reality.

This is simply untrue, and is belied by, amongst other things, the high levels of activity involving the Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, who are banned from many universities under the National Union of Students' (NUS) No Platform Policy. Over the past few months, Dr Abdul Wahid and Reza Pankhurst, both advertised by students as prominent members of the organisation, have been invited onto campus by societies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Queen Mary University to address students. Indeed, the fact that his article has appeared the day before Jamal Harwood, another senior member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, is due to appear at Westminster University only serves to highlight the extent of the issue.

These talks have been characterised by partisan crowds and intimidation being meted out to opposing speakers. At SOAS, an audience member shouted that a speaker who disagreed with Dr Wahid was a "kafir", and at Queen Mary the opposing speaker was told that he should "follow him [Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouaziziby burning yourself". Intimidation of opponents at City University is also reported in the HASC report, something which Mr Thomas-Johnson has missed, as well as at a recent event at Queen Mary when students were filmed and violently threatened.

Compounding this, research by Student Rights has documented students at several London universities disseminating articles from websites like New Civilisation, edited by Reza Pankhurst, as well as links to the Hizb-ut-Tahrir website, and to Islamist websites like Khilafah.com. A recent Student Rights report also discovered that London South Bank University Islamic Society (ISoc) were sharing speeches given by jihadist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki on Facebook, though these videos have since been removed.

This is only the tip of the iceberg though, and the suggestion that the focus on speakers is an "absurd concoction" either shows that FOSIS is completely out of touch with reality or are complicit in obscuring the extent of the problem. In the past three months, Student Rights has documented over 40 instances of speakers being invited onto campuses who have caused concern in the past, including individuals who have declared support for terrorist organisations, have expressed homophobic or misogynistic views or have encouraged communal division.

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