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Written by Student Rights on 21 June 2012 at 10am

United Muslims' Convention and its divisive speakers promoted to students

With the academic year drawing to a close, the approach of summer also sees an increase in the number of off-campus Islamic conferences being promoted to students.

Here at Student Rights we recently highlighted the ‘Flee to Allah’ conference, held at Edmonton Islamic Centre and featuring a number of deeply intolerant speakers.

Next in many students’ diaries may well be the ‘Best of the Best’ themed United Muslims' Convention taking place in Birmingham on Sunday 24th June, organised by Al-Hikma Media.

Promoted to students via the Islamic Society Facebook pages at Nottingham Trent University, Aston University, Bradford University and the University of Bedfordshire, the event features a number of individuals who Student Rights have raised concerns about in the past.

Chief among these is Zahir Mahmood, who has declared that “Hamas are not terrorists, they’re freedom fighters” and who frequently rails against the modern trappings of Western lifestyle and Western foreign policy.

He has also spread the message that there is a conflict between Islam and the West, saying that “...the reality is, a glance at European history, you will see that they are only doing what their forefathers have done for over 1,000 years. They have been vilifying, demonising the Muslims, Islam, and especially the prophet...there’s been a deep enmity and a deep history. The only difference today is that they use the spin of freedom of speech”.

Also present as a speaker at the conference will be Taji Mustafa, the UK media representative of the extremist Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Banned from speaking on many UK campuses by the National Union of Student’s ‘No Platform’ policy, Mustafa represents a group described by the Prevent strategy as “target[ing] specific universities and colleges...with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students”.

A recent Student Rights report found that he had interacted on Twitter with one student who has been involved in promoting Hizb ut-Tahrir ideology on campus at the University of Westminster, and documented the influence of his online presence on a number of other students.

One of the directors of the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), Abdurraheem Green will also address the conference despite having declared that a husband may use “physical force... a very light beating” against his wife and arguing that “Islam is not compatible with democracy”.

On further investigation, Al-Hikmah media also list a number of other individuals on their website as “orators” who have been highlighted by Student Rights, including the IERA researcher Hamza Tzortzis and Dr Azzam Tamimi, an open supporter of Hamas.

That a conference hosting speakers such as these is being promoted to students by their Islamic Societies is no longer surprising given the frequency with which individuals like them are invited onto campuses. 

However, it does raise further concerns about the nature of too many of the individuals who are being promoted as figures of authority to students. By advertising an event like this to their members, Islamic societies are unfortunately only reinforcing the acceptance of intolerant ideas.