zahir mahmood 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
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
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
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,”
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
“There is no other course of action for him now,” Kassam
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.
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.
in denial. I’m not saying that universities are hotbeds of
However, there is no doubt it has existed and still exists,
not least in his own university,” he said.