Islamic extremist to address London students

Radical to address University College London after provost denies campus radicalism.

October 21, 2011 01:20
3 minute read.
Zahir Mahmood

zahir mahmood 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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LONDON – A radical Islamist and Hamas supporter is set to address students at a prestigious London university only days after its leader told a newspaper that campus extremism was a “non-issue” and “made up.”

Prof. Malcolm Grant, provost and president of University College London (UCL), told the Evening Standard newspaper that the issue has been “over-hyped” and that it was wrong to expect university staff to spot potential terrorists on campus.

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“Talk to our Muslim and Jewish students and they will tell you that it is a non-issue – it just doesn’t exist,” Grant said.

The issue has been raised as former UCL student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab goes on trial in the US on charges of allegedly attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger jet in 2009.

Islamist preacher Zahir Mahmood has been invited to the university’s Islamic Society’s annual charity dinner on October 28. Mahmood has a history of glorifying Hamas, and has called for Muslims to refrain from integrating into British society.

Interfaith activist and director of the group Stand for Peace, Hasan Afzal, said that Mahmood has rebuked Muslims wanting to integrate into society and has angrily stated that “many of us [Muslims] give preference to our nationality over our Islamic identity.”

Afzal said that Mahmood similarly caused anger by calling Hamas “freedom fighters” during a speech attended by anti-Israel activist and former MP George Galloway.

“It’s extraordinary that Malcolm Grant is oblivious to the extremism that germinates right under his nose. Grant has a duty of care to his students, and by failing to recognize the hate-preachers on his campus, it is clear that he is failing to protect students from extremism,” Afzal said.

Student Rights, a London-based organization fighting extremism on campus, has called for Grant to apologize or resign.

“We are issuing a public call for Malcolm Grant to either apologize or step down from his position at University College London,” said Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights. “His failure to understand, identify and tackle radicalization on his own campus reeks of either incompetence or a sheer unwillingness to protect his students.

“There is no other course of action for him now,” Kassam said.

Rosanna Rafel, former co-president of UCL’s Jewish Society said that they consistently raised concerns about the problem of extremist speakers being invited onto campus without any sufficient checks by the university.

“The response from Malcolm Grant was to the effect that if these speakers don’t actually say anything problematic on campus itself, it’s fine,” Rafel said. “The only people who seemed to actually realize there was a problem were the Union’s sabbatical officers. Grant really needs to get his head out of the sand and actually go to a few events, or even look up some of these speakers. Maybe he should have listened to his Jewish students who warned him of the very extremism he claims does not exist.”

Union of Jewish Students Campaign Director Dan Sheldon said that Grant was “willfully blind to the evidence of problems on our campuses – including his own.”

Responding to Grant’s remarks, Lord Carlile, former independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, accused the UCL head of being “in denial” about student extremism.

“He’s plainly in denial. I’m not saying that universities are hotbeds of extremism.

However, there is no doubt it has existed and still exists, not least in his own university,” he said.

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