Blog
  • By on September 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    SOAS plays host to anti-Israel activist Jackie Walker

    On Wednesday 13 September, the Khalili Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) hosted a performance entitled ‘The Lynching’ with controversial anti-Israel activist Jackie Walker. The event was advertised as “a one-woman show” and was co-hosted by SOAS Palestine Society and a group calling itself ‘Free Speech on Israel’. It is concerning that this one-sided event - the premise of which is that the Jewish community is weaponising claims of anti-Semitism in bad faith in order to suppress criticism of Israel - went ahead without balance. We strongly urge SOAS to not host events of this kind in future. Read more...

  • By on September 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    ‘Safeguarding Against Extremism in Higher Education’: Conference Review

    Last week, Public Policy Exchange held a conference on extremism at the Strand Palace Hotel. The conference, entitled ‘Safeguarding Against Extremism in Higher Education: Preventing Hate and Protecting Freedoms’, featured distinguished speakers from a variety of fields, including law, academia, and the civil service. It gave an invaluable insight into the current legislation surrounding extremism as well as the debates surrounding Prevent. The conference accurately represented the diversity of views towards Prevent that exist across various sectors of British higher education. There were encouraging contributions that emphasised the necessity of the policy as well as its key successes. However, the number of critical voices reminds us that there still remains important work to be performed in relation to the communications and public relations side of the policy. Definitional clarity towards extremism remains an outstanding concern among many Prevent practitioners. It is absolutely vital that these perceptions and misunderstandings are robustly addressed. Read more...

  • By on August 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    UK Government distances itself from the British University in Egypt over antisemitism scandal

    In March 2017, Mohamed Farid Fouad Khamis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the British University in Egypt (BUE), gave a speech at a conference which promoted the antisemitic conspiracy ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. A video of the talk was translated by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), who subsequently contacted the UK Government and Loughborough University. They pressured them to sever relations with the institution. The matter has now been investigated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Both the Government and Loughborough University have said that their contracts with the BUE will end in December 2017. Student Rights welcomes this principled stance and commends CAA for pursuing this case. We will continue to hold to account British universities that partner, affiliate, accept money from or set up satellite campuses with foreign institutions which have a history of extremism or intolerance. Read more...

  • By on August 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Recent successes highlight support for Prevent

    The past weeks have been awash with media stories of key Prevent successes. A high profile legal challenge to the government’s Prevent strategy was defeated at the High Court on 26 July. A few days later on 1 August, the Higher Education and Funding Council for England (HEFCE) released its assessment of universities’ compliance with Prevent, concluding that 95 per cent of providers were demonstrating “due regard to the Prevent duty”. Most recently, a senior Scotland Yard Police Officer, Cdr. Dean Haydon, has claimed that much criticism of Prevent is based on “ignorance”. These important developments demonstrate the legal foundations of Prevent as well as the extent of serious engagement with the policy within law enforcement and higher education. However, as Cdr. Haydon has identified, they also underscore the need to communicate Prevent more effectively to the wider community. Read more...

  • By on August 2, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Universities UK unknowingly plays host to Hizb Ut-Tahrir

    It has been revealed that Jamal Harwood, a spokesman for the British branch of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was invited to give a talk earlier this year at the London headquarters of Universities UK. His talk, entitled “Is the Caliphate a viable alternative for the Middle East?”, took place in April 2017 at the Woburn House Conference Centre, a building that they own. It is highly unfortunate that this speaker and organisation managed to escape their attention. Universities UK have clarified that they “will not allow the organiser to book any future events at the venue”. It is especially concerning that this took place at the headquarters of a body that prides itself on its work challenging extremism. This is clearly an episode where due diligence could have mitigated risks associated with outside speakers and avoided wider embarrassment. Read more...

  • By on July 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Prevent plays a decisive role in challenging Far-Right extremism

    Home Office and Police figures have shown that the number of Far-Right referrals to Prevent’s Channel programme have risen significantly in recent times. This news has not received nearly as much publicity as inaccurate perceptions that the policy unfairly targets the wider Muslim community. Like its Islamist equivalent, Far-Right extremism provides its followers with a seemingly cohesive sense of meaning, purpose and identity. Recruiters prey on vulnerable individuals looking for an ideology or cause that can offer them absolute certainty in times of personal crisis. The Far-Right is especially dangerous for students from minority backgrounds. Prevent, on the other hand, is one of the most effective forms of defence we have against this pernicious form of extremism. Read more...

  • By on July 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    London’s Palestine Expo reveals weaknesses of the UK’s counter-extremism strategy

    Last weekend (8-9 July), Palestine Expo 2017 took place at the QEII Centre, a government owned building in the heart of Westminster. Many thousands attended a series of events intended to celebrate Palestinian culture. In practice, the conference also served as a platform for controversial speakers with a history of extremism. We at Student Rights are especially alarmed by the outreach and focus on students and young people at Palestine Expo 2017. We strongly urge the government to consider steps that would prevent public buildings from being used by these organisers in future. Read more...

  • By on July 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Salford Student President who opposes Prevent reveals troubling views on social media

    Zamzam Ibrahim, President of the Salford Student’s Union and a member of the NUS’s National Executive Council (NEC), has been at the forefront of efforts to delegitimise Prevent and pressure her fellow student officials to stop engaging with it. Ibrahim has hosted the controversial group MEND and called the government’s Prevent strategy “disastrous” and “racist”. It has also been revealed that Ibrahim has controversial views on religious supremacism, racial differences and male-female relations. We believe that divisive comments are inappropriate for those occupying positions of responsibility in student organisations. Read more...

  • By on June 30, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Controversial group CAGE uses Facebook to ‘suggest’ advertisement

    Student Rights recently received a ‘suggested video’ on Facebook from CAGE, the controversial prisoner lobby group, which was entitled ‘10 Reasons to donate to CAGE’. Many members of the Facebook community who have received this advertisement will be unaware of CAGE’s history of extremist and Islamist connections as well as their record of opposing the government’s counter-terrorism measures. Troubling advertising of this kind is not sufficiently regulated or moderated by internet sites. Read more...

  • By on June 21, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Student Islamic Societies Raise Money for Controversial Islamic Charity

    A controversial charity with alleged ties to extremism is appealing for money from students and Islamic student societies to build mosques abroad. As part of a fundraising initiative during Ramadan, a partnership entitled ‘The Mosque Project’, managed by the Ummah Welfare Trust (UWT) in partnership with a number of student Islamic societies, aims to build six masjids in four Muslim countries. However, the UWT has a controversial past, including displaying extremist material on their website and hosting extremist speakers at their events. The UWT’s financial accounts were closed by Barclays Bank in 2008, and by HSBC in 2014. It is disturbing that altruistic students are being exploited by charities with controversial histories and alleged ties to extremism. Read more...

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