Extreme events continue on campuses

The identification of former University of Westminster student Mohammed Emwazi as the Islamic State executioner ‘Jihadi John’ has led to increased scrutiny on the issue of campus extremism.

With Haitham Al-Haddad due to speak at the university the same day Emwazi was unmasked, concern over extremists being invited to address students has been at the forefront of this debate.

Following Emwazi’s identification, Haddad’s appearance at Westminster was cancelled, and plans for him to give a lecture at the University of Kent (UKC) were also quietly abandoned.

Students from Universities at Medway, part of the University of Greenwich, UKC, and Canterbury Christ Church University, also announced that a talk featuring Hamza Tzortzis had been cancelled.

However, while it is encouraging to see some universities reconsidering plans to allow extremists unchallenged platforms, a number of events planned for this week appear to be going ahead.

Universities at Medway will see Abdullah Al-Andalusi and Dilly Hussain speak tonight, and both of these men have a history of divisive and anti-democratic views.

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

Hussain has stated there is “a full on ideological/cultural war is being waged on Islam and Muslims” and attacked one Muslim woman who disagreed with him as “pisshead, drunken liberal garbage” and “[a] stupid liberal cow”.

At the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) meanwhile, Uthman Lateef was booked to speak on the issue of women in Islam on Tuesday – just days after Hizb ut-Tahrir member Shohana Khan spoke there on a similar subject.

Lateef has warned against “the way of the disbelievers, of the kuffar” and claimed teaching “democratic Islam” will bring humiliation to Muslims.

He has also claimed Muslims “don’t accept homosexuality…we hate it because Allah hates it”, and when challenged on this in 2014 said “…we are not homophobic, we just hate homosexual acts”.

That these events are so prevalent, and that they continue to go ahead without challenge in the wake of recent revelations about Mohammed Emwazi, show the extent of this issue.

As such, universities must address how they plan to deal with these concerns – and how they will ensure that extremists face scrutiny and challenge when they appear on our campuses.

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