Fresh from their little propaganda coup – courtesy of Ed Balls – in the “extremist schools” row the other week, Hizb ut Tahrir, the Islamic equivalent of the BNP, are back targeting another of their favourite groups of young people: students.
HT are banned from most university campuses because of their racism and homophobia. But tomorrow at 5pm, Queen Mary, University of London, is holding – on its campus – an event entitled “Shariah law – compatible in [sic] the modern world?”
Shariah law is, of course, one of HT’s most cherished demands. And look who’s speaking! Why, it’s Jamal Harwood, Hizb ut Tahrir’s spokesman and “head of legal affairs.” And the chair of the meeting is Reza Pankhurst, another HT member jailed in Egypt in 2002 for his activities. There is a token anti-sharia presence in the form of Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked magazine – I do hope he realises who he’s appearing with.
Queen Mary, in the heart of the East End, has had particular problems with Islamic extremism in the past. It has been a major target for HT and other, more violent, groups such as al-Muhajiroun. As I wrote in 2006, one of its undergraduates received death threats – from fellow students – in 2001 after he appeared on TV supporting the overthrow of the Taliban. The lad was moved to different accommodation by the university, but they took no action against his harassers. He eventually decided to leave.
When we wrote about this, my then newspaper, the Standard, received a ridiculous complaint from QM’s then principal, Adrian Smith – confirming the story, but saying that it was “irresponsible” of us to talk about it; a classic example of the denial mentality in parts of the establishment.
Things have improved at QM since 2001. Hizb ut Tahrir and al-Muj are no longer an open presence the campus, and may actually be banned – though the student union did not seem clear about this when asked by the think-tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), earlier today. Tuesday’s meeting is taking place under the auspices of a mysterious body called the “Queen Mary Dialogue and Debate Society.”
Houriya Ahmed, of the CSC, says: “This is a test of QM’s commitment to stamp out extremism on its campus. It is wrong for a meeting with a clear balance of HT speakers to take place on a campus which has had a problem in the past. This meeting risks being a propaganda platform for HT and should not take place.”
Over to you, Queen Mary…
EARLY MORNING UPDATE: As of this morning, the Facebook page has been removed and the event now seems to have been cancelled or postponed. Was somebody reading this blog?