The alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day has focused attention on the major issue of extremism in British universities. He is the fourth President of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years and reportedly attended talks given by the extremist Anwar al-Awlaki who has links to Al-Qaeda.
Antisemitism and vilification of Israel are features of Islamist extremism. Numerous meetings at British universities have provided a climate where extremism can flourish. Recently there was the BRICUP (British Committee for Universities for Palestine) meeting at SOAS London (School of Oriental and African Studies) where the openly antisemitic comparison of Israel with apartheid South Africa was repeatedly drawn. There was antisemitic shouting at the meeting and one speaker, Bongani Matsuku, was recently found by the Human Rights Commission in South Africa to have practised hate speech against Jews. Another example was at Goldsmiths College in November 2008. There a meeting with an openly antisemitic title - comparing Israel to the Nazis – gave a platform to a profoundly antisemitic speaker.
The Zionist Federation notes the recent cancellation of a meeting at UCL which was to have been addressed by Abu Usamah. It also notes the letter in The Times from Denis MacShane MP (see below) saying that University vice-chancellors and the university lecturers’ union "pooh-poohed" the concerns of the all-party parlimentary commission on antisemitism which he chaired..
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 Harassment Act and the Public Order Act. 'Free speech' is only possible with appropriate boundaries.
- The government to encourage Universities to be more vigilant against Islamist extremism and against antisemitism.
- The Crown Prosecution Service to be more willing to prosecute extremists and those who host them (the CPS is still looking at the Goldsmiths case over a year after it occurred)
- The government and Vice Chancellors to implement recommendations of the Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism which were published over three years ago:
o University Authorities to record all reports of antisemitism
o Vice Chancellors to set up a working party to take robust action against antisemitism on campus.
Letter from Denis MacShane MP: The Times 31 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?"
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