Islamic extremism, intimidation at London's City University

By Jennifer Lipman, October 18, 2010
A 'prayer room protest' at City University (Photo: CULSU City Offline 2010)

A 'prayer room protest' at City University (Photo: CULSU City Offline 2010)

A London university’s Islamic society promoted a “hard-line Islamist ideology” which led to “the intimidation and harassment of staff, students and members of minority”, researchers have revealed.

A report by the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam shows that the behaviour of City University’s Islamic society (ISoc) “during the last academic year “scared” Jewish students and moderate Muslims and “led to increased religious tensions on campus.”

The authors of the report cautioned that “such extremism may increase the risks of students turning to terrorism.”

They found that Saleh Patel, the ISoc president, had called for kafirs (unbelievers) to be killed and for adulterers to be stoned.

Mr Patel told ISoc members that: “Islam believes in defensive and offensive jihad.”

In recordings of Friday prayers held at the university Mr Patel can be heard saying that the Islamic state “teaches to cut the hand of the thief’” and “to kill the apostate.

“This is what Allah and his messenger…have taught us.

“The difference of opinion lies with regards to how he should be killed not as to what he is – a kafir or a Muslim.

“When they say to us that Islam was spread by the sword, and there is no such thing as jihad, we say to them ‘no’.”

At other times members called for women to be forced into wearing the veils and for shari’ah law to be implemented in Britain.

The ISoc also held daily large-scale protests to oppose the university’s provision of a multifaith prayer room and invited Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical pro-al-Qaeda preacher, to a university event.

According to the report, “ISoc members sought to create a globalised ‘grievance-based’ Muslim identity that was hostile to non-Muslims and paranoid and suspicious of outsiders.”

After complaints from fellow students, including members of the LGBT society and the editor of the student newspaper, the university authorities closed the ISoc website and removed some of its privileges.

Lucy James, the report’s author, called the revelation that such ideas were being openly promoted on a university campus “deeply shocking”.

She said that while City University had done its best to contain the problem, “government, civil society groups, students and moderate Muslim organisations need to help challenge these ideologies before they lead to violence on campus or even an act of terrorism.

“Labour failed to effectively take action against campus radicalisation; hopefully the new government will not also ignore this problem.”

The Quilliam report follows the publication of an investigation into University College London’s approach to tackling campus extremism.

Critics called the investigation, launched after the arrest of former student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, "complacent" and a "whitewash".

Last updated: 12:00pm, October 20 2010