Sunday, August 19The Voice of London

Is Inviting Controversial Radical Hate Preachers In Universities Becoming A New Trend?

The stress has kicked in. Netflix and Chill is strictly prohibited. It is that stressful time of the year where many university hopefuls are sending their UCAS application. Reading Bob’s ideal personal statement on the internet, hoping your skills matches his so you can write your own.

Words: Izza Hina, Subeditor: Mariya Savova

Photo Credit: Prima Vista
Photo credit: Prima Vista

Everyone is excited to go to university and embark on a new independent journey of their life. Well, when we say becoming independent, who are we kidding? We mean to independently be able to make your way safely back to the dorm after getting intense lessons how to party hard and survive the coming three years on cheap alcohol during freshers’ week. It is the golden week where students get to know their university better and settle in. During this very week your university will be showcasing different societies to interest you.

These societies are not like the chess society that met up every Friday back at college but are much more organised with dedicated members. Regular events are organised often with guest speakers which are attended by many. The problem starts here, when not much supervision or guidance is provided to these groups.  As a result of the right to freedom of speech many students are exposed to a hostile environment.

Universities like Queen Mary, Salford, Nottingham, SOAS, and Brunel have all hosted events inviting controversial preachers. Students at the University of Westminster have previously invited preacher Utman Lateef, and radical fundamentalist like Anjem Chowdery, who has been charged under Terrorism Act 2000 and acted as a mentor to one of the killers of soldier Lee Rigby, as guest speakers.

The question is how universities can allow students to host such events without much hesitation and guidance? Even mainstream broadcasting media do not allow speakers like Anjem Chowdery to make TV appearances and here we have young students exposed to such extreme ideologies. And all that in the name of freedom of speech and equal opportunities. Many of these type of events hosted are segregated, which contradicts the university’s policy of equality.  How can such events be hosted by public funded institutions which aim to educate everyone on equal levels. If these societies are to organise events of this kind, it should be in a privately hired place where students do not feel intimidated in their own campus.

Many political leaders have very clearly stated against gender segregation, including PM David Cameron, Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, and SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell. However, no serious actions have been implemented yet.

Universities do not allow members from the British National Party (BNP) or the English Defence League (EDL) to come and give lectures to student as they are considered extremist. There is a danger that inviting them can spark a racial outrage on campus. Then why do they allow other extremists speakers to come? Surely, they all are as damaging as one and other.

The question is are Universities going to take a stronger stand against this or are students going to continue to be exposed to selected radical preachers. Surely none of them signed up for radicalisation lessons as extra curriculum activity to look good on their CV.