Raison d'être - Student Rights on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Over the Christmas and New Year break, we've all seen the story of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab unfold. We know he was educated at a British University, we know he was the head of the Islamic Society at UCL and we know he attempted to destroy Flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day.
Student Rights of course have campaigned strongly against radical and extremist speech on university campuses over the past 7 months, and our successes though numerous, pale in comparison to this terrifying reminder of why we exist.
Faisal Hanra, a spokesman for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) has commented that "This raises a number of concerns, and we are making efforts to contact as many members of the society from the time as we can."
Many have voiced opinions over the scrutiny applied to speakers in British universities, with National Director of Student Rights Raheem Kassam commenting that "Incidents like this are not to be ignored, nor dismissed as isolated or freak occurrences. Radicalisation in all forms, across the political and religious spectrum is occuring on university campuses in the UK and it has no place there. Student Rights will work tirelessly to end this culture of division and segregation across the board."
It's clear that complacency on campuses will lead to more abhorrent occurrences of this nature, and that action must be taken. University Vice Chancellors and lecturers can no longer afford to ignore the advice as presented to them in 2006 by an All-Party Parliamentary Commission on Anti-Semitism:
It calls upon University Vice Chancellors and student unions to be more vigilant and more proscriptive against this extremism and antisemitism. Vice Chancellors must have regard to their duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, the Protection against Harrassment Act and the Public Order Act. 'Free speech' is only possible with appropriate boundaries.
Student Rights Advisory Board member and Member of Parliament Denis MacShane commented to The Times on the 31st December 2009;
"Sir, In 2006 an all-party parliamentary commission I chaired reported on rising anti-Semitism on university campuses and the support for Islamist ideology, including appeals to jihad, which are widespread in students circles. University vice-chancellors and the university lecturers' union pooh-poohed our concerns. Might they now have the intellectual honesty to admit that this is a serious problem, or do we have to wait until some student radicalised by campus Islamism succeeds in killing hundreds before our university elites realise what is incubating on British campuses?"