LONDON – One of the world’s most prestigious science- based universities is this week hosting an anti-West week accused of peddling “jihadist propaganda” in which controversial American anti-Israel activist and author Norman Finkelstein will appear, alongside Islamists accused of influencing perpetrators of terrorist acts.
Organized by the Islamic Society at Imperial College London, “Justice Week” is described as an “exciting new project…to educate ourselves about some of the injustices found in the world” and a forum “to highlight the Islamic perspective of injustices at home and abroad.”
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The event is being publicized through the Islamic Society and the Imperial College Union websites, and on Facebook.
On Thursday, Finkelstein, a Hamas and Hizbullah supporter, will give two talks – one titled “Truth of the Gaza Invasion,” the other “Consequences of the Gaza Invasion” – to promote his new book on the subject.
Wednesday sees a screening of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, followed by commentary from former pan-Islamic group Hizb-ut- Tahrir [liberation party] chairman Jamal Harwood.
Currently subject to a “no platform policy” by the National Union of Students (NUS), which blocks it from participating in any NUS event or standing in an NUS election, Hizb-ut-Tahrir is set to be banned by the British government. The group aims to unify Muslim countries as an Islamic caliphate ruled by Islamic law and has been accused of terrorist links.
The week will also include an event with Asim Qureshi, who will discuss “injustices in recent wars and policies,” particularly the case of Aafia Siddique, jailed earlier this year by a US court for 86 years for the attempted murder of American personnel in Afghanistan.
Qureshi represents “Cage Prisoners,” a London-based group set up to raise awareness of “the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror.”
According to reports, the group campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners,
including convicted terrorists. It has been accused by commentators in
the counter-radicalization field of having links to Anwar al-Awlaki –
the radical Yemeni cleric accused of influencing the Christmas Day
bomber and former University College London student Umar Farouk
Campus counter-radicalization campaign group Student Rights has
questioned why an event “dedicated to jihadist propaganda” is being
allowed to take place on a university campus.
“Justice Week appears to be dedicated to jihadist propaganda on
taxpayer-funded university campuses,” said Matthew Walker from Student
Rights. “The presence of those who have previously been banned and
endorsed the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki proves that despite recent
publicity regarding radicalization on campuses – these events are still
being approved by university authorities.”
The director of the Londonbased think tank Center for Social Cohesion,
Douglas Murray, said the week is more about injustice and hate.
“This is not a week that has anything to do with justice,” Murray said. “It is only to do with injustice and hate.
“If you were a student at Imperial College looking to learn about actual
injustices in the world you might have expected to learn about the
injustices in Darfur, or against Kurds and Christians across the Middle
East but no, as usual with such events, it has to do only with the
delegitimization of Israel, America and her allies.
“Obscure and prominent Islamists and their fellow travelers would be the
last people any honest person would go to learn about justice,” Murray
Awlaki also reportedly inspired the Fort Hood shootings in the US last
year and was said to be responsible for influencing UK student Roshonara
Choudhry, who was jailed for life earlier this month after attempting
to kill British MP Stephen Timms in May.
There was speculation that Choudhry was radicalized by watching Awlaki sermons on YouTube.
Articles and videos by Awlaki are still promoted through the Cage
Prisoners website, whose director, Moazzam Begg, is billed as the “first
[person] to interview Awlaki” after his release from detention in
Begg was a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released without
charge in 2005 by President Bush and was hosted at University College
London by Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, prior to the latter’s attempted
bombing of an airliner in December 2009.
“Events like this are counter- productive and serve as the root cause of
hatred against the West, which leads to home-grown terrorism,” said
Raheem Kassam from Student Rights. “Propaganda in this form breeds
segregation and radicalization – a process through which Umar Farouk
Abdulmuttalab went before attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines
flight en route to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.”
A counterdemonstration at Imperial College on Monday against Finkelstein
has been organized on Facebook by students under the banner “No to
hate, No to Finkelstein” and questions his support for Hizbullah.