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Written by Student Rights on 7 January 2013 at 6pm

Oxford Brookes Islamic Society continue a worrying trend

Just two days into 2013 Student Rights has found that Oxford Brookes Islamic Society has continued one of last year’s more worrying trends, sharing a video of an Anwar Al-Awlaki sermon on its Facebook page, and stating “It's so beautifully told by Imam Anwar Al Awlaki”.

Killed in a US drone strike in September 2011, Awlaki was described in 2009 as “playing a key role in setting the strategic direction” for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and up until his death was believed to have provided advice or ideological support for a number of ‘lone wolf’ terrorists including two former British students.

 

Former UCL student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is believed to have met Awlaki in Yemen after graduating and trained there with AQAP,whilst Roshonara Choudhry’s attempted assassination of MP Stephen Timms in May 2010 “was clearly driven by belief in the ideology offered by Al Qaeda and its theoretician Anwar al-Awlaki”, a belief she had developed after watching hundreds of videos featuring the cleric on YouTube.

Back in September 2012 Oxford Brookes Islamic Society also shared a picture of Awlaki featuring the quote “We don’t have our priorities straight. We shouldn’t get into pitiful discussions and arguments about minor issues when the Ummah is facing some serious problems”.

Videos featuring speeches by the Al-Qaeda-linked cleric have also been shared with Islamic societies at the University of Westminster in August 2012, Sheffield Hallam in February 2012 and London South Bank University (LSBU) between November 2011 and January 2012.

At London Metropolitan University Islamic Society in June and July videos of Awlaki were repeatedly shared, including one with the message “Please Please Listen To This Amazing Lecture”, and another called ‘Love for the Sunnah’, which contained military imagery including a masked man holding a rifle.

More seriously, at the University of Westminster in March 2012 a video shared via Facebook featured a voiceover by Awlaki, and included numerous images of jihadist fighters and their leaders.

In this video Awlaki could be heard to say:

We just need to realise it, realise how much ajira [life after death] is out there waiting for us if we just go and do something...you can’t even imagine how much ajira is out there to be handed out...we don’t want to be waiting on the sidelines when all this is happening. People are going and making millions and you’re sitting at home doing nothing”.

That videos, pictures, or quotes of Awlaki appear on student Facebook pages on an almost monthly basis is deeply disturbing given his reputation as an individual whose material is able to appeal to vulnerable young people.

Student social media should be no place for this material, and here at Student Rights we have highlighted this problem and called for universities to ensure that they discuss such issues with their students. 

After our report on the issue at LSBU the Islamic Society released a statement saying:

Some video content has now been removed from the LSBU Islamic Society Facebook wall to protect the students, the reputation of the society and the Students’ Union and to avoid any perceived association with extremism, which we do not condone in any way shape or form. Students can feel free to contact the ISoc for advice on how to deal with extremism or any of the issues”.

It is clear then that highlighting the extent of this issue can certainly have a positive outcome, and the LSBU Islamic Society should be commended for their actions.

We would hope that Oxford Brookes Islamic Society will make the same decision in order to ensure that it does not inadvertently put its members at risk.