Divisive speakers to address students at SOAS

Entitled ‘The Rise of ISIS: Origin and Reality’, an event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Friday will feature speeches by Abdullah Al-Andalusi and Muhammad Dilwar Hussain.

Given their previous output on the subject, it is likely that the speakers will focus on blaming the West for the group’s rise and attraction to fighters from the UK.

Hussain used his Huffington Post blog last year to claim “discriminatory Western policies towards Muslims worldwide [were] a major motivation” for those who had travelled to Syria.

Meanwhile, Al-Andalusi blames “the seeds of division…compounded with the deliberate and differential treatment U.S. occupation forces gave to Iraqis…as part of their divide and rule strategy” for the rise of ISIS.

He has also claimed that any new Western attempts to check ISIS are in fact “aimed at further subjugating and weakening the oppressed Muslims of Iraq and the cause of Islam”.

This divisive suggestion that the West is deliberately targeting Islam is echoed by Hussain, who has stated that there is “a full on ideological/cultural war is being waged on Islam and Muslims”.

The promotion of this grievance narrative on campuses is deeply damaging, and should be challenged at the event – as should the speakers’ more extreme views.

These include Al-Andalusi’s position that democracy is the “most divisive and socially destructive force known in politics”, and that “Secularism, Feminism, Humanism and Freedom” are “blatantly un-Islamic concepts”.

However, the chances seem slim – with the hosts subscribing to similar views, having claimed there is “movement all across the globe towards the criminalising of Islam…in the “democratic” west”.

On Monday a number of British Muslims appeared on Panorama stating that opposing this ‘us and them’ message would be vital to defeating extremist views – and events like this should be the place to start.

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