Written by Student Rights on 13 July 2012 at 4pm

Uthman Lateef and the rejection of Prevent at Swansea University

Earlier this week, following an exchange with the Education Officer at Swansea University Student Union, we spoke to a senior figure in the National Union of Students (NUS) about the way in which many students view the Prevent strategy.

He suggested that “the view that prevent in general is problematically Islamophobic, and that the way the police often handle issues locally is unhelpful, is relatively common”, something that was echoed earlier this year by a motion submitted to the NUS conference calling for delegates to "stand in solidarity with those negatively affected by Prevent".

However, the antipathy with which many students greet Prevent and the associated need to challenge extremism on campuses often means that they overlook the very real issue of extremists being invited onto campus. 

Indeed, this Sunday the Swansea University Islamic Society will be holding a Ramadan preparation course entitled ‘Think Fast!’ which features Dr Uthman Lateef and Asif Uddin as its instructors.

Lateef, who Student Rights have written about before, was refused permission to speak at London Metropolitan University in March 2012.

In 2009 he told an audience at the East London Mosque that “if we are teaching the way of life of the disbelievers, of the kuffar, Allah will bring humiliation on us” and that people should beware of being misled by those advocating forms of Islam including a “democratic Islam”.

He also has a history of homophobia, stating in 2007 that “we don’t accept homosexuality...we hate it because Allah hates it”. 

Lateef is also head of the Hittin Institute, which includes Hamza Tzortzis amongst its staff, and has released reports calling for “the return of the Islamic system” for Palestine and that claimcohesive values that will bring us out of this social decay. It can be argued these cohesive values must be the Islamic values and the workable solution is the Islamic Social Model”.

Appearing alongside Dr Lateef will be Asif Uddin, a preacher who “is part of the MRDF administrative committee which is supervised by Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad”. 

He is also “working on the Sabeel project which caters for Islamic knowledge and development” which organises weekend retreats for young people where they can meet individuals like Al-Haddad.

In our recent report we highlighted the fact that these retreats are often promoted to students by Sabeel activists, something that we also reported on in late June 2012 when students from a number of Islamic Societies were listed as attending a weekend retreat with Al-Haddad in Brentwood.

The fact that this ‘Think Fast!’ event takes place at Swansea University in the same week that a senior Student Union figure is tweeting about obstructing the implementation of the government’s Prevent strategy shows the lack of concern that too many Student Union figures have about this issue.

Here at Student Rights we feel that challenging extremism on campus must be student-led, and that Student Unions have a huge role to play in this.

Ensuring that these kinds of events are open to challenge by the student body, as well as oversight by senior members of the union is crucial, so ignoring or even hindering policy like Prevent is something that should raise serious concerns.