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Written by Student Rights on 14 November 2012 at 5pm

'No Platform' gets it wrong at the University of Derby

The National Union of Students' (NUS) ‘No Platform’ Policy is designed to prevent universities from being used by fascist organisations to spread their message, and includes extremist parties like the National Front, the British National Party and Hizb ut-Tahrir.

However, last week it appears that it was extended by the Students Union at the University of Derby to prevent David Gale, a UKIP candidate standing in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections from appearing on campus.

An email sent to Mr Gale from the Student Union declared that:

"The University of Derby Students' Union standing orders state clearly in that any member of the union may complain to the union president about an individual(s) who they believe to be a member of a group with racist, fascist or extremist views.

We received several student complaints around UKIP policies on immigration that included repealing the 1998 Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The decision was taken by the Students' Union executive to place UKIP on our no platform list in line with our values and legal documentation. We at the University of Derby Students' Union are proud supporters of No Platform and we uphold the rights of our students to feel safe while studying on campus”.

After Mr Gale expressed outrage at his party being compared to the fascist groups barred by the NUS ‘No Platform’ policy, the union has stated that it “will review its policies and procedures, to further clarify its position”.

Despite this, it appears that the ‘No Platform’ policy may not be being applied across the board at the University of Derby.

A speaker called Mazhar Najeeb was invited to speak by the university Islamic Society in November 2011 on the subject of ‘Gadaffi Dead: Libya Now Free?’

He is also being advertised as a speaker on Thursday 22nd November 2012 for an event entitled ‘The Great Deception: The Arab Spring’, which has been rescheduled from October.

Najeeb has been named to Student Rights as a prominent Hizb ut-Tahrir activist in Derby by a former member, and appears to be the owner of the domain name for an unofficial website and forum dedicated to the group.

The Islamic Society also hosted an event in December 2011 called ‘Moderate Islam: Secularism in Disguise’ which featured an individual called Majid Hussain as the speaker.

Whilst we cannot confirm that it is the same man, we were also told by our contact that this is the name of another Hizb ut-Tahrir activist in the area, and that the topic of talk is an argument often adopted by the group.

If Hizb ut-Tahrir-linked speakers are being allowed to address students whilst members of legitimate political parties are being barred under a ‘No Platform’ policy then something has gone badly wrong at the University of Derby.

Student Rights will be contacting the university to ask that they look into the event on the 22nd November to confirm if the speaker does indeed have links to Hizb ut-Tahrir, and we hope that they will act to ensure he is not given a platform if this is the case.