Article
Written by Student Rights on 17 October 2012 at 3pm

Anti-Semitism of Loughborough University event organiser causes concern (Update: Statement from Loughborough University)

UPDATE II: This article has been edited to make clear that it was comments opposing Hamas made by Abu Ja'far Al Hanbali which lead to Al-Hera's declaration of suport for the group, and that Mr Al-Hanbali does not support Hamas in any way.

UPDATE: Loughborough University have provided Student Rights with a statement on this event which reads:

"The University considers very carefully all events being held on campus, and is content that this event is in compliance with its policy on external speakers.

As the autumn term continues and students settle back into their routines, events organised by student societies are becoming more common.

Whilst the majority of these events will be opportunities for students to see interesting speakers and learn about new subjects, tomorrow will see an event take place at Loughborough University which has raised concerns here at Student Rights.

Organised by both the Loughborough Student Union Islamic Society (LSUIS) and Al-Hera, a Loughborough-based youth organisation, the event features Hamza Tzortzis as a speaker.

Student Rights have written about Tzortzis on a number of occasions, highlighting his anti-democratic and intolerant views.

A former member of the extremist Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir, Tzortzis has claimed that “we as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom”.

He has also written that homosexuality should be a criminal act and that those who object to that “cannot escape the social constructs in their own societies”, as well as defending barbaric punishments including amputation.

However, despite Tzortzis’ intolerance, perhaps more concerning than the choice of guest is the continued role of Al-Hera in working with LSUIS to organise events and provide speakers.

After being criticised in November 2011 for facilitating an event featuring the Hamas supporter Dr Azzam Tamimi, in December 2011 the organisation hosted an event in conjunction with LSUIS featuring Abu Ja'far Al Hanbali, who has claimed that Osama Bin Laden will “be entered into the Paradise”.

After the event concerns were raised about comments made by Al-Hanbali claiming Hamas would not defeat Israel, following which Al-Hera wrote on Facebook that “Al-Hera as an organization hold the position that support for popular uprisings are encouraged and supported by a consensus of the scholars”.

They continued that “The position of Al-Hera on an organizational basis is to give the Islamic parties full support and to understand that there are righteous upright scholars who have given their backing to such movements. E.g Hamas”.

The homepage of the organisation’s website also continues to feature an Israeli flag with the word ‘Dajjal’ (Anti-Christ) written on it, which links to a YouTube video by a Trinidadian sheikh called Imran Hosein.

In this video Hosein espouses conspiracy theory including that the Antichrist will be a Jew, that the perpetrators of 9/11 are the same as those who killed Franz Ferdinand in 1914, and that the Jews brought the USA into World War One in return for the Holy Land.

In another video viewed by Student Rights he can be heard on a radio show referring to the Taliban as “the authentic Islamic Resistance”.

Facebook posts by Al-Hera have also further incited anti-Semitic hatred, stating that Allah “will never let the blessed land of Prophets come into the hands of evil, bloodsucking, Zionist terrorists”, whilst another supports convicted Islamist militants including Ali Al-Timimi, Abu Hamza and Aafia Siddique.

 

That the LSUIS appears to have such a close relationship with this organisation is deeply concerning, and should be investigated immediately by the Students Union at Loughborough University.

As a charitable body the Union has a legal duty to avoid association with an entity that could bring it into disrepute, and LSUIS (a Union-affiliated society) organising events with a group like Al-Hera risks doing just that.