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Written by Student Rights on 14 October 2013 at 12pm

Kingston University release statement concerning Dr Khalid Fikry

Following Student Rights' discovery that students at Kingston University were advertising fortnightly classes with the extremist cleric Dr Khalid Fikry, the university has released a statement which reads:

"Kingston University can confirm that Dr Fikry spoke at an Islamic Society event held at Kingston University yesterday, 10 October. To the best of our knowledge, however, neither the University, nor the Students’ Union at Kingston have received a formal request from the Islamic Society to run fortnightly classes with Dr Fikry as you have described below.

Any such request would have to be considered and approved within the context of the University’s policies.

As you are aware, Kingston University and Kingston University Students' Union (KUSU) take their responsibilities for the safety and well-being of staff and students very seriously and do not tolerate any behaviour that might be construed as incitement to racial hatred. Universities and student unions do also, however, have an obligation to protect and promote freedom of speech.

Please note that KUSU societies operate under the banner of the Students’ Union, which is an organisation separate from Kingston University. KUSU has a comprehensive policy with regards to approval of external speakers for society events.

In addition, it is compulsory for the speaker to have signed up to the University's value statement before an event is allowed to go ahead with the speaker concerned taking part. Should the University or KUSU be made aware of any complaints about the views expressed at society events they would work closely together to resolve the issue".

This raises further concerns about Dr Fikry's invitation by students, the most pressing of which is the fact that no formal request for permission was received, and that the university appears to have been completely unaware of the plans.

The fact that "any such request [for permission] would have to be considered and approved within the context of the University’s policies" suggests that students are aware that as long as permission is not requested they will not be investigated. 

After Student Rights put this to Kingston University, a second statement was released which said:

"The statement says very clearly that as far as we are aware (and a couple of the people we need to ask about this are currently away from the University) we have not received a formal request and neither have the Students’ Union.

Now that we have been made aware of the classes, we will be ensuring a formal request is made through the normal channels at both the University and the Students’ Union. This request will be considered in line with the University’s policies".

As such, it does now appear that the university will look into Dr Fikry's presence on campus, though the statement does not raise much hope that he will be challenged, with the suggestion that only complaints from students would trigger an investigation.