Row over Cambridge University 'hate speaker'

Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi will address Cambridge University students tonight

Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi will address Cambridge University students tonight

Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi, who has said he would be happy to be a suicide bomber, will address Cambridge University students tonight, despite calls from the Union of Jewish Students to revoke the invitation.

The Cambridge Islamic Society has invited Dr Tamimi, director of Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, to address students this evening.

A UJS spokeswoman criticised the Islamic Society for allowing the talk to go ahead when the same group “demanded” that the university’s Israel Society cancel a speech by top Israeli historian, Benny Morris last week, after claiming he was an “Islamophobic hate speaker”.

In 2004, Dr Tamimi told BBC’s Hard Talk: “Sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause… I would do it if I had the opportunity."

Last month, Labour MP Denis Macshane, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, called Dr Tamimi a “preacher of antisemitic hate and jihad” and criticised Birmingham University for providing a “platform for this hate doctrine”.

The UJS spokeswoman said: “When the Islamic society was asked by the Jewish society to revoke the invitation of Tamimi for this evening’s event the response was: ‘Yes, we know he's offensive but we welcome you to attend and challenge’.

“It is another example of hate speakers being invited to British campuses, of an unnecessary and hurtful provocation to liberal and minority students and finally of university authorities failing to fulfil their duty of care to all students.

“The Union of Jewish Students reiterates its call for free, yet responsible speech. The right to freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to not incite hatred.”

Last updated: 11:10am, February 9 2010