Written by Student Rights on 1 February 2013 at 6pm

Asghar Bukhari invited onto campus at Middlesex

This Tuesday an event is being held by the Middlesex University Palestine Society entitled ‘The Case for Boycotting, Divesting, and Sanctions against Israel’, and is due to feature Asghar Bukhari, a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK).

MPACUK is currently listed as a fascist organisation on the National Union of Students (NUS) ‘No Platform Policy’ alongside Hizb ut-Tahrir, the National Front and the British National Party, forbidding any officer of the NUS from sharing a platform with it.

In 2008 Bukhari was found to have stated on his Facebook page that "Muslims who fight against the occupation of their lands are 'Mujahadeen' and are blessed by Allah...any Muslim who fights against Israel and dies is a martyr and will be granted paradise" and that “There is no greater oppressor on this earth then [sic] the Zionists, who murder little children for sport”.

Since then, in 2010 he declared during an online debate with former Al-Muhajiroun members that “many would argue that scholars (Awlaki) [Al-Qaeda facilitator killed in Yemen in 2011] for example fought jihad with their tongues and were targeted for killing because of it”.

Bukhari also utilised Awlaki's words to promote his cause, sharing a quote from the cleric on the 1st December 2012 saying “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”.

He then commented “They claim MPACUK has no scholarly backing?...Really?

During May 2012 Student Rights also uncovered that Bukhari had shared video of himself with students at the School of Oriental and African Studies telling viewers that unless they started defending Islam they would “find that the fate of the Bosnian Muslims, who were massacred in their own homes by people who they lived next door to, is going to be your fate.

This cynical attempt to exploit a horrifying massacre in order to stoke communal division was mirrored by a number of tweets from the MPACUK official Twitter account which included  warnings such as “Blond haired, blue eyed, fully integrated citizens, ruthlessly massacred in ?#Bosnia. Why? Because of their Muslim heritage. Never again”.

MPACUK responded to one individual who expressed his sadness at the terrible tragedy of Srebrenica by stating that “we mustn't forget what happened in Bosnia. There are many parallels to Britain” and also ran an article on its website called ‘Feeling British Won’t Save You’.

Using the deaths of Muslims in Bosnia to radicalise young people has been described as “a very potent contemporary tool for Islamist radicalisation in the UK” and is cited as one of main reasons behind the radicalisation of the British citizen Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted in 2002 for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

It was also a tactic used by Anwar Al-Awlaki who in his lecture ‘The life and times of Umar Ibn Khattab’ stated that “ Bosnia, that’s what happened...a brother was telling me, ‘they used to date our women, they used to be very close to us, neighbour to neighbour, very close’. But then Milosevic tricked them...and they turned against the Muslims”.

Bukhari's comments from 2008 border on the glorification of terrorism and suggest a real risk of a breach of the law on the campus, whilst both he and his organisation have a history of attempting to recruit young people to their cause.

In the 2012 Student Rights report ‘Challenging Extremists: Practical Frameworks for our Universities’ we highlighted the work of two MPACUK activists working at Queen Mary University under the name ‘Reviving Jihad’, and have also found that the group is currently running advocacy courses which teach young Muslims the “tactics used by [their] enemies”.

Whilst university campuses should be a place for radical ideas and discussion, Bukhari’s justification of religious violence and divisive rhetoric should have no place on a UK campus, whilst the NUS ban on MPACUK should make the university reconsider approving his invitation.

More worrying though is the fact that the university has now restricted entry to the event to Middlesex University staff and students.

Given that this is the same society and venue which saw Jenny Tonge forced to resign from the Liberal Democrats after she said that “Israel is not going to be there forever”, and Ken O'Keefe stated that "Israel and Mossad were directly involved in 9/11", it is vital that this event remains open if it is allowed to go ahead.