Watchdog Report: 40% Increase in ‘Extremist’ Speakers on London Campuses
According to a report released Friday by a British watchdog group, there has been more than a 40 percent increase in the number of speakers at London campuses who hold intolerant views, compared to the same period last year, The Algemeiner has learned.
Student Rights, which monitors extremism on UK campuses, found that, in the first four months of the current academic year, there were 30 such speakers, up from 21 last year. Its report, “Extreme or Intolerant Speakers on London Campuses,” also claimed that there could have been additional events that were not openly promoted.
The speakers in question hold, or are affiliated with organizations that hold, “extremist views,” specifically with respect to radical Islam and terrorism.
A September event at the Institute of Education cited in the report, for example, featured a speaker from CAGE, an organization the report alleges has a “long history of defending convicted terrorists.” An October event at Queen Mary University featured a speaker who had stated that apostates from Islam “who fight against the community … should be killed,” and had stated, “We as Muslims reject … freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom.” A November event at London South Bank University featured a speaker who had tweeted that “Jews are evil.” A January event at King’s College London featured a speaker who referred to homosexuality as “an abomination,” “disgusting,” “a sin” and a “criminal act.”
The report concludes with some positive statistics, as well, however, such as a small increase in the number of campus events that attempted to provide balance. For example, according to the report, many universities are in the process of shoring up their procedures for complying with Britain’s 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA), which mandates that universities address extremist campus activity.
Still, Student Rights director Rupert Sutton told the Jewish Chronicle, “University action has not been good enough. While it is important universities protect freedom of expression … institutions must ensure at the very minimum that any extreme speakers invited onto campus face balanced platforms and robust challenge.”
Student Rights’ report was produced, according to its introductory section, following last year’s passage of CTSA. This law imposed the duty on public bodies, such as universities, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism,” and specifically highlighted the need to manage extremist speakers. CTSA was passed after the government found, in reports dating back to 2011, that extremist organizations were deliberately targeting campuses for the radicalization and recruitment of students, and that inadequate effort had been expended to ensure that “extremists on campus are … subject to equal and robust challenge.”
Student Rights is a project of the Henry Jackson Society, which describes itself on its website as a “think tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free.”