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  • By on March 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Far left masked anarchists violently shut down libertarian event at King’s College London

    On 5 March 2018, the King’s College Libertarian Society attempted to host an event featuring Israeli speaker Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute and controversial YouTube vlogger ‘Sargon of Akkad’ (Carl Benjamin). Both speakers were due to talk about freedom of expression as well as ‘objectivism’, the libertarian philosophy created by Russian-American author Ayn Rand. The protest group set up on Facebook called for the speakers to be no-platformed and described them as ‘white supremacists’, ‘neo-fascists’, ‘nazis’ and ‘alt-right’. Off-campus groups, including black-clad activists from the hardline “left-wing, anti-fascist” street movement Antifa, were also present. Unlike the student societies, Antifa violently shut down the event and forced it to be cancelled. The organisers of the event faced other institutional obstacles. The appalling scenes at KCL last night are evidence of an encroaching culture of intolerance and hostility towards free speech on university campuses in Britain. Read more...

  • By on February 14, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Anti-Israel activists intimidate students at King’s College London

    On Monday 12 February, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Likud Party politician Dan Meridor gave a speech entitled ‘Threats and Challenges’ to students at the Strand Campus of King’s College London (KCL). This event, which was jointly organised by The Pinsker Centre and the KCL and City University Israel Societies, was met with vocal protests by students and activists affiliated to anti-Israel groups. Video footage shows how a crowd of around sixty protestors waved placards and sought to disrupt the event by screaming loudly outside the entrance to the lecture room where Meridor was speaking. Some protestors were reported to have photographed members of the audience leaving the room. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) condemned what it called “disgraceful scenes”, and the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed that he would be in contact with the Principal of KCL to “gain assurances that there will be no repeat”. We hope that KCL can fully ensure that future speakers, Israeli or otherwise, are not subject to similar attempts at disruption in future, nor their audience subject to unacceptable levels of hostility and intimidation. Read more...

  • By on January 23, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    UK Government pledges to fund student trips to Auschwitz to combat anti-Semitism

    In the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, the UK government has announced that it will partner with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) in sending 200 university students from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi extermination camp in Poland. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education have pledged to devote £144,000 to the project. They aim to train participants so that they can educate fellow students about anti-Semitism when they return to UK campuses. Student Rights is extremely supportive of the government’s decision to support students in this way. We hope it has a tangible impact at all levels of student life across the UK. Read more...

  • By on January 19, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    ‘Anti-Semitic Pseudoscience’ promoted at the University of Warwick

    On 17 January 2018, the Warwick for Justice in Palestine group hosted an event at the University of Warwick, which has been described by pro-Israel blogger David Collier as “anti-Semitic pseudoscience”. The talk, which was delivered by KCL Research Fellow Dr. Siggie Vertommen, was entitled “Anticolonial Resistance is Fertile: Sperm Smuggling and Birth Strikes in Palestine/Israel”. Vertommen accused Israel of selectively implementing a policy of ‘pronatalism’ - promoting higher birth rates for Jews - aimed at serving “the reproductive rights of its Jewish population at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population”. It is concerning that the group hosting Vertommen consisted of both faculty staff and students. This gives a veneer of academic respectability to the unpleasant arguments made by the speaker. Disturbingly, Collier also reported that organisers refused to let some attendees enter the event, despite the fact that the event was advertised publicly. We are glad that Collier is lodging an official complaint with the university and we urge other concerned students or faculty members to do likewise. Read more...

  • By on January 12, 2018 at 10:00 am

    UCL investigates secret eugenics conference promoting racism on campus

    A secret eugenics conference that was held at University College London (UCL) is being investigated by university authorities. The event, entitled “The London Conference on Intelligence”, has taken place at least four times since its inception in 2014. The conference was organised by James Thompson, an honorary Professor of Psychology at UCL. It featured a number of white supremacist speakers promoting racist views linking intelligence to genetic and racial differences. Disturbingly, the conference also featured an organiser who has argued in favour of raping children. UCL said that they were never given prior notice of the speakers or the subject of the conference, claiming that they were booked as an “external event” without official endorsement. Student Rights is glad that the institution has taken this matter extremely seriously and we hope that there will be no future events of this nature taking place on campus. Read more...

  • By on December 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Extremists target Birmingham campuses in the lead up to Christmas

    Although students are already heading home for the Christmas holiday, extremists are still appearing on campuses. This was very much the case in Birmingham. Between 15 and 17 December, the University of Birmingham Islamic Society hosted controversial American preacher Abdul Nasir Jangda. Jangda is an instructor at the Al-Maghrib Institute which has a history of promoting speakers with extreme views. Meanwhile, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) held their 2017 Winter Conference at Aston University with the local Islamic Society that same weekend. The conference was co-sponsored with Human Appeal, a charity that has previously been linked to Hamas. It also featured Majed Mahmoud, an instructor at the Al-Maghrib Institute, and Aman Ali, MEND’s London Regional Manager. This high volume of Islamist speakers in one location over one weekend is unusual. We hope that Birmingham and Aston universities will ensure that these extremists are not given so much oxygen in future. Read more...

  • By on December 14, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Student Rights submits written evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Universities

    Between November and December 2017, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has held an inquiry into the state of freedom of speech in universities. So far they have received testimonies from a range of expert witnesses who are distinguished in the fields of academia, politics, law, journalism and wider civil society. The scope of this parliamentary inquiry considers whether government policy in this area is coherent. It also examines the Prevent duty’s attempts to balance multiple legal requirements, looks at the role of student unions and the new Office for Students (OfS), as well as reviewing examples of freedom of speech being suppressed on campus. Richard Black, Research Manager of Student Rights, has made a written submission to the inquiry. In it, he argued in favour of the Prevent strategy, outlined cases where freedom of speech has been restricted by students, and called for a robust approach to balanced platforms and instances of extremism in universities. Read more...

  • By on December 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    UWE Student Union President legitimises MEND extremists

    MEND has been incredibly active on student campuses in recent weeks, most notably through its leadership of a series of events held across the country, which collectively comprise the ‘Islamophobia Awareness Month’ (IAM) campaign. Despite this title, there are now signs that these efforts leave behind them an ugly trail of extremism. For instance, the IAM events at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol were organised by Zain Choudhry, President of the UWE Students’ Union. These events featured extremists such as MEND representative Sahar al-Faifi and CAGE’s Outreach Director Moazzam Begg. Choudhry ridiculed criticism of MEND’s ties to extremism on Twitter. However, in recent days, the President himself has been under scrutiny, condemned by fellow students for describing a rival candidate for a student election as a “very Zionist type [of] person”. This incident underscores the dangers of allowing groups such as MEND to engage in de facto campaigning activity on campus, and to do so without challenge. Read more...

  • By on November 15, 2017 at 6:05 am

    ‘Students Not Suspects’ begin new tour with CAGE speaker convicted of terror offence

    As part of ‘Islamophobia Awareness Month’, the NUS have announced that a new ‘Students Not Suspects’ tour will visit campuses across the UK. The first of these speaker events will be hosted by the UCL students’ union on 15 November 2017. The panel discussion will feature CAGE’s International Director Muhammad Rabbani. Disturbingly, Rabbani was recently arrested and convicted of an offence under the Terrorism Act for withholding information on his phone and laptop from counter-terror police. Future ‘Students Not Suspects’ events are due to take place in Manchester (20 November), Sussex (21 November), Bristol (22 November), and Leicester (27 November). We have long written about ‘Students Not Suspects’ and its close links to CAGE and other extreme groups. Like previous tours, these workshops and panel events will most likely spread misinformation surrounding Prevent. In doing so, they ignore the critical safeguarding aspect of the policy, its efforts at challenging far-right extremism, as well as its ability to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism. Read more...

  • By on November 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Student unions reveal hypocrisy and absurdity over speaker policies

    Recent news stories have shown that controversial yet mainstream speakers continue to be targeted by speaker policies on university campuses. The latest incidents involve the University of Liverpool, King’s College London, and the University of Sussex. It is notable that in all three of these examples, the student unions have not disclosed what it was that made them consider the speaker events to be medium or high risk. They have not been transparent with the decision making processes that led to these tendentious conclusions. This continuing trend suggests that student unions are not acting in the best interests of the students and societies that they represent. Concerned students have the right to hold them to account for adopting inconsistent approaches. Read more...

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