Written by Student Rights on 14 June 2012 at 10am

LSBU Islamic Society, the East London Mosque and the peril of off-campus events

Towards the end of April Student Rights highlighted that Kingston and Roehampton Islamic Societies had invited the extremist preacher Haitham al-Haddad to their end of year dinner, only to have him cancel on them at the last minute.

One of the issues raised by this event was that it was due to take place off-campus at a Holiday Inn in Kingston. This would have made it very difficult for the university to fulfil their pastoral care responsibility to protect their students from extremism.

Similarly, this Friday will see London South Bank University host their end of year dinner called ‘With Hardship Comes Ease’. This will feature speeches by Wasim Kempson and Mufti Menk, and will take place at the East London Mosque.

This is the same East London Mosque that has repeatedly been criticised for its connections to extremism, including hosting individuals such as Bilal Phillips, banned from the UK in 2010 and Hussain Yee, who believes that 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy.

The mosque management also allowed an organisation called Noor Pro Media to use its facilities to show video of the senior Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in January 2009, and to run a live telephone Q&A session afterwards.

As well as this, it has also been described as “inextricably intertwined” with the Islamic Forum of Europe, an organisation which was found to be telling youth members “Our goal is to create the True Believer, [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad”.

The speakers at Friday’s dinner event do not appear especially controversial, though Wasim Kempson frequently shares platforms with extremists including Haitham al-HaddadMurtaza Khan and Jalal Ibn Saeed.

However, the fact that events are being moved off campus and into environments such as the East London Mosque is a trend that should concern university authorities.

Since the beginning of 2012 Student Rights have seen Islamic Societies at Sheffield Hallam University and London Metropolitan University simply book off-campus venues when denied a platform for extremist speakers on campus.

Most recently, the London Metropolitan University Islamic Society organised an event featuring Dr Khalid Fikry directly at the Holloway Road Masjid, the venue they used when told Murtaza Khan could not appear on campus.

Fikry, who can be seen here in an anti-Shiite video produced by the extremist website Salafi Media, states that the Shia are one of the worst and greatest enemies against our Ummah nowadays”.

He is also alleged to be the author of this fulsome tribute to Omar Abdul Rahman, described by terrorism expert Quintan Wiktorowicz as “the former mufti of Islamic Jihad and the Gamiyya Islamiyya who is currently serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit terrorism in the United States”.

By holding an event off-campus it is clear that individuals with potentially dangerous views can circumvent regulations and gain access to students. This means that procedures put in place to challenge campus extremism become irrelevant.

This is why creating a civic stigma around lawful intolerance and a standardisation of procedures which lead to speaker bookings, as recommended by our new report, is vital. 

We would also urge London Metropolitan University, who have been very effective recently in blocking extremist speakers from using their campus, to investigate the manner in which their Islamic Society are avoiding scrutiny by holding events off-campus.