Written by Student Rights on 29 May 2012 at 7pm

Huffington Post UK: Students Being Targeted By Islamist Extremists On Campus, Report Claims

By Lucy Sherriff

28th May 2012

Islamist extremists are infiltrating universities and becoming highly influential amongst students because institutions are continuing to invite controversial speakers onto campus, a report has claimed.

Students are being targeted by radicals via social media, extremist material and external speakers, the Challenging Extremists publication reveals. The study, produced by Student Rights and The Henry Jackson Society, highlights the "continuing and disturbing trend" of extremism on university campuses.

But the report clashes with the Home Affairs select committee's publication produced in February which stated that the internet played a far greater role than universities in contributing to the issue.

The Roots of Violent Radicalisation said the focus placed on university campuses by the government's Prevent strategy had been "disproportionate" and the effects of campuses on radicalisation were "overstated".

In addition, the National Union of Students has dismissed the report as "sensationalist" and claims there are various "inaccuracies".

President Liam Burns issued a statement saying:

"Unfortunately NUS was not given an opportunity to feed into the recommendations before publication so were unable to remove some of the inaccuracies or ensure we don't sensationalise an incredibly complex issue.

"NUS has long-standing policy against hate speech of all kinds and our officers will not share a platform with those who spread hatred. However, students' unions are autonomous and we have no ability to dictate to them how they deal with the potential for extremism."

The government's Prevent Review, launched in 2007 after the July bombings, identified campuses as key areas at risk of radicalisation. Despite demonstrating the tensions between the European Convention of Human Right's freedom of speech article and terrorism risks, the issue remains prevalent, Monday's report insists.

Free speech has special legal status on university campus, and has to be upheld for students, lecturers and visiting speakers alike - regardless of the content of their addresses.

Controversial speakers such as Abu Salahudeen and Murtaza Khan are among those who have been invited to speak.

Salahudeen, who has addressed Aston University twice this year, has appeared in videos promoting the belief of a Western war on Muslims: "As long as the west continues to use military power to torture, rape, murder, genocide Muslims off the face of planet Earth, we must stand up and defend ourselves."

Khan has repeatedly endorsed brutal punishments for adultery and referred to Jews and Christians as "enemies towards us" and deemed non-Muslims "filthy". He has been invited onto campuses four times since February 2012 and the University of West London and London Metropolitan University's Islamic societies have shared videos of his lectures on Facebook.