Off-campus events highlight complexity of extremist speaker issue
As July begins and students finish their exams and head home for the summer, the number of events held on campus begins to decline.
Despite this, events featuring extreme or intolerant speakers are still promoted to students via social media, and tonight will see two at different ends of the country take place.
In Manchester, Uthman Lateef will speak at a fundraising dinner for the Muslims of Burma, promoted to students at the University of Sheffield.
Lateef is the former director of the Hittin Institute, an organisation which “regard[ed] grossly erroneous any allusion to Islam’s separating of politics with belief”.
He has also attacked “democratic Islam”, stating that “if we are teaching the way of life of the disbelievers, of the kuffar, Allah will bring humiliation on us”.
At the same time, Adnan Rashid and Wasim Kempson will be addressing an audience in Slough at an event called ‘Welcoming Ramadan’, which was promoted by students at Brunel University.
He has claimed that “Islam’s legacy is deliberately hidden from the masses to justify the ongoing global persecution of the Muslims”.
Whilst writing for Lateef’s Hittin Institute he also suggested that “the Muslims...should be allowed to run the affairs of Palestine and other Islamic lands ensuring that the Islamic law is implemented comprehensively”.
Kempson is a patron of Helping Households under Great Stress (HHUGS), a charity which campaigns to support the relatives of those arrested under terrorism legislation.
The group claims that it’s beneficiaries do not include convicted prisoners, yet in February 2012 videos and articles, including one by the extremist cleric Haitham Al-Haddad, appeared on the website.
These attacked the conviction of Munir Farooqi for soliciting to murder, claiming “Munir Farooqi was convicted on the evidence of two undercover police officers. There was no forensic evidence against him”.
The organisation also encouraged supporters to write to Khalid Al-Fawwaz, Osama Bin Laden’s former UK spokesman, and Adel Abdul Bary, indicted alongside Al-Fawwaz in May 2000 in relation to the 1998 US Embassy bombings.
Since Student Rights uncovered this in September 2012, the request has been removed from the HHUGS website.
As we have written in the past, the ease with which these events can be promoted to students shows that to focus solely on campus events may be to miss a major aspect of the risk posed by extremists.
It also highlights that the blurring of the boundaries between the online and off-line campus is an extremely difficult issue for universities to deal with, and one which is likely to continue to pose problems in the future.