Written by Student Rights on 22 January 2013 at 5pm

Arts London News: Banned preacher addresses UAL students

By Adam Leyland

22nd January 2013

A radical Islamic preacher spoke at the London College of Communication (LCC) in December 2012 despite being banned from other universities.

Othman Lateef addressed the UAL Islamic Society event A Noble Gift – The Path to Gracious Patience about last year’s troubles in Gaza and the Muslim faith.

The former director of the Islamic research-based initiative Hittin Institute had been banned from London Metropolitan University and Nottingham Trent University for his extremist views.

Lateef was recorded at Queen Mary, University of London saying: “We don’t accept homosexuality. We hate it because Allah hates it.”

Radical events

A spokesperson for the UAL Islamic Society told Arts London News (ALN) that the society was not aware of Lateef’s speeches at other univerisities.

“We can’t say that Othman Lateef is someone whom we can’t trust, because from the recent event we had with him, we were happy to have worked with him,” the spokesman said.

“He was a very kind man with very good manners. His speech was decent, from our experience.”

Research by pressure group Student Rights showed that 214 events hosting radical Islamic preachers were advertised on the Facebook pages of university Islamic societies.

The report said: “[The events] were either promoted by students or via student social media by external organisations or individuals.”

The 214 events featured speakers with a history of intolerance to other ethnic groups and many had affiliations with extremist organisations, the report states.

The report had no information regarding other religious radical preachers.

Online videos

Student Rights cited a number of cases of students in London being radicalised by online videos promoted on Facebook.

Roshonara Choudhry, a BA English and Communications student at King’s College London, was jailed for 25 years for trying to assassinate MP Stephen Timms in 2010.

She had been influenced by videos of al-Qaeda member Anwar Al-Awlaki who had been promoted regularly to students via Facebook, the BBC reported.

Rupert Sutton, a researcher at Student Rights, told ALN that the issue was far worse at other London universities.

He alleged that Islamic societies at Queen Mary, London Metropolitan and Westminster universities had been most affected by Facebook infiltration, with videos posted carrying messages ranging from minor intolerance to “essential glorification of terrorism.”

The government has also spoken out against the issue, with Theresa May arguing in 2011 that universities were “complacent” in tackling Islamic extremism.


However, Sutton said that he feels that the number of particularly fanatical preachers talking at campuses is declining.

“Universities are becoming more aware of the issue and how to deal with it. My gut feeling is that extremism and the severity of the preachers is getting less.

“Particularly bad preachers are being refused entry into a campus or they aren’t being invited anymore,” he said.

Sutton said that many Muslims leave Islamic societies when they feel that they have been hijacked and inevitably lose a positive support network as a result.

He said: “They lose the ability to hang out with other people of their faith and they get tarred with the same brush. They don’t want to be part of a group that is seen to be full of extremists.”

Sutton added that the Lateef talk in December was the only time his organisation had seen radical Islamists promoted or speaking at UAL.

Students Union culture and diversity officer at UAL, Fairooz Aniqa, said: “Even though we don’t get many instances of extremism at UAL it may still be a problem that manifests itself in a more passive way.”

An NUS spokesperson told ALN: “NUS has long-standing policy against hate speech of all kinds and our officers will not share a platform with those who spread hatred. However, students’ unions are autonomous and we have no ability to dictate to them how they deal with the potential for extremism.”