Written by Student Rights on 1 May 2014 at 11am

Zahir Mahmood speaks at FOSIS AGM

As we approach the end of the academic year, with just exams left to deal with, many student groups are holding AGMs to elect new committees for next year.

This is true for the local branches of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), and on 26th April FOSIS Midlands held its AGM at the University of Birmingham.

Unfortunately for FOSIS, which often attacks critics of its failure to challenge extremist speakers, the event featured Zahir Mahmood speaking alongside FOSIS VP Bashir Osman.

Mahmood has a history of inciting communal division, arguing in his lecture 'European Depictions of the Prophet' that the West is “doing what their forefathers have done for over 1,000 years. They have been vilifying, demonising the Muslims, Islam, and especially the prophet”.

He also added that “...there has been a deep enmity and a deep history. The only difference today is that they use the spin of freedom of speech”.

In addition to this, he was recorded at a rally for Viva Palestina claiming that that “Hamas are not terrorists, they’re freedom fighters” at a rally for Viva Palestina.

This is not the first time that FOSIS has said one thing about extreme clerics and done another, with several FOSIS events in March featuring speakers criticised for their intolerant views.

Meanwhile, following the arrest of Moazzam Begg earlier this year, the group allowed its name to appear on promotional material advertising an event featuring speakers  including Haitham Al-HaddadUthman Lateef, Hamza TzortzisAzad AliYvonne Ridley, and Taji Mustafa of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

As we have said in the past, FOSIS and its students have the right to invite or promote speakers with extreme views, but they must accept the scrutiny that comes with this.

Given that this event with Mahmood is yet another example of the group showing such behaviour it is unsurprising that its claims of challenging extremism are now being given increasingly short shrift.