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Written by Student Rights on 19 April 2013 at 7pm

MPACUK have a 'Dream for the Ummah' at Queen Mary

Over the past year Student Rights has highlighted the way in which commercial bookings enable organisations with extreme or intolerant views to gain access to campuses.

At the beginning of April we wrote of how Nottingham University had been used by Haitham Al-Haddad to hold his ‘Family Retreat’, whilst in March 2012 Christian Concern’s booking of Exeter College Oxford caused widespread anger.

This weekend Queen Mary University will host the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), which will be holding a conference entitled ‘A Dream for the Ummah’.

 

Currently listed as a racist organisation by the National Union of Students (NUS) ‘No Platform Policy’ alongside the British National Party, MPACUK has a history of inflammatory comments.

Just two weeks ago the group updated its Facebook page with a message stating “Take your holocaust, roll it up nice tight then shove it up your (be creative)!

In 2008 its founder Asghar Bukhari 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".

During May of last year he shared video of himself with students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in which he claimed 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”.

MPACUK has also pushed this divisive message, claimingwe mustn't forget what happened in Bosnia. There are many parallels to Britain”, and publishing an article called ‘Feeling British Won’t Save You’.

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

A recent article on MPACUK’s website compounds this, claiming that “those who do not observe Jihad are indeed committing a grave sin” and that “by forsaking ourselves of the duty of Jihad we risk the wrath of God”.

Student Rights contacted Queen Mary University to ask what oversight procedures were in place, particularly as a student had claimed that gender segregation was planned, though we have found no evidence to suggest that this is the case.

We also asked why a commercial booking had been extended to a group with this record, and were told:

Queen Mary has a clear policy on Freedom of Speech within the law, and all events that take place on our premises are subject to stringent security checks to ensure the safety of attendees and speakers.

The MPACUK event on 21 April is a commercial booking, which has met with checks in line with our policy and therefore will go ahead. As necessary, QM advisors will work with organisers to ensure that booking conditions are met on the day”.

Whilst this event may be in line with Queen Mary’s free speech policies, does the university really have to allow any organisation that wants to make a commercial booking a platform?

Using the neutrality of ‘commercial bookings’ does not remove an institution’s duty of care to its students, and we hope that Queen Mary will ensure that this event does not provide MPACUK with a platform to spread hatred.