New Report: Top UK Universities Hosting Islamists Who Praise Terrorist Groups, Bash Jews and Israel
Major British universities are hosting Islamist speakers with a history of endorsing terrorist groups, demonizing Jews, and defaming Israel, a London-based think tank has found.
While the majority of universities in the UK are living up to requirements outlined by the government’s counter-terrorism “Prevent” strategy — designed to support at-risk populations from becoming radicalized — many events showcasing “extreme speakers” routinely take place at campuses across the country, according to a new report published by the Henry Jackson Society.
Of the 112 events listed by the report for the 2016-17 academic year, the most — 14 — took place at SOAS University of London, followed by six each at Kingston University and University College London.
Among the featured speakers were Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ridley was invited to speak at the University of Bradford by its Islamic Society on November 17, 2016, and also spoke at the University of Southampton on March 9, 2017, during the local Islamic Society’s “Discover Islam Week.”
At a 2010 rally in London, Ridley was filmed chanting “victory to Hezbollah, victory to Hamas, victory to the Palestinians, victory to the intifada (violent Palestinian uprising).” A year earlier, she claimed that “the Zionists have tentacles everywhere.” Hamas, as well as Hezbollah’s “military wing,” are both proscribed terrorist organizations in the UK.
Another headliner was Jalal Ibn Saeed, an American lecturer who spoke at the University of Bradford and University of Southampton at the invitation of each school’s Islamic Society. Saeed has previously been filmed discussing “the Jews, who only care about themselves and call the rest a goyim, those who are damned. Those who are enslaved to them.”
Also listed in the report was Anas al-Tikriti, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Cordoba Foundation, who appeared at Brunel University on November 22, 2016 at the invitation of its student union. Tikriti called for the UK government in 2009 to engage with Hamas and criticized the Muslim Council of Britain in 2007 for acquiescing to “the pro-Zionist lobby” by ending its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day. He claimed the commemoration of the genocide whitewashes the “suffering of Palestinians.”
Other events featured Asim Khan, imam of the Redbridge Islamic Centre, who spoke at King’s College London on November 10, 2016. Khan, who also made appearances at University of Oxford, Queen Mary University, Brunel University, and Coventry University, wrote in a now-removed 2013 post on the Islam21c website that homosexuality is an “abomination,” and an “evil,” “disgusting,” “immoral,” “wretched,” and “shameful practice.”
Later that month, Sahar al-Faifi, an executive member of the Muslim Council of Britain, spoke out against Islamophobia at the University of Bristol. Faifi tweeted in 2013 about the “banking empire” of “the Rothschild Jews and their branches in Palestine,” and claimed, “Nothing worse than a Shia who flipped and became a secularist attacking Islamists! Combining the worst of the two!” Her tweets have since been deleted.
Several other events featured speakers from the organization Friends of Al-Aqsa — including at University College London and Queen Mary University — sometimes with the support of the university’s local pro-Palestinian society. The chair and founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, Ismail Patel, said in a 2009 rally, “Hamas is no terrorist organization … we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel.” The group has published articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by numerous controversial figures, including Holocaust denier Paul Eisen and antisemitic musician Gilad Atzmon, who has called for serious consideration of “the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world.”
Binyomin Gilbert, program manager at the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, told The Algemeiner that “many universities seem to have an extremely poor understanding of antisemitism and extremism.”
He called on “Universities UK and individual universities and students’ unions to shoulder responsibility for the events that our students are exposed to.”
“The threat of radicalisation threatens the whole of British society, not only Jews,” Gilbert added. “Extremists and antisemites must be denied a platform, and universities and students’ unions must strengthen their screening procedures and put an end to this deeply disturbing trend of permitting antisemitic and extremist speakers to influence students on British campuses, thereby putting Jewish students at risk.”
A spokesperson for SOAS, which according to the Henry Jackson Society hosted the most extremist speakers over the past school year, told The Algemeiner that the events in question “were legal” and that “no concerns were raised with us by local police or Prevent officers.”
“At SOAS we believe that it is only through freedom of debate and robust discussion that universities can work to address some of the most complex and challenging issues facing the world today,” the spokesperson added. “We recognise that these freedoms and rights are not absolute — they are freedoms to be exercised within the law.”