London campus was 'launch pad for Islamist terrorism'

By Jennifer Lipman, October 21, 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 university's Islamic society promoted a "hard-line Islamist ideology" which intimidated minorities and struck fear into Jewish students, researchers have revealed.

The counter-radicalism think tank Quilliam, which compiled the report into the Islamic society at London's City University during the past year, said such extremism could provide a "launch-pad for Islamist-inspired terrorism".

The report said that the ISoc leadership had advocated jihad and that its behaviour had "increased religious tensions on campus". Saleh Patel, the president of ISoc, was recorded at Friday prayers telling members that kuffir (unbelievers) should be killed, adulterers stoned and that shari'ah law should be implemented in Britain.

The report said: "ISoc members sought to create a globalised 'grievance-based' Muslim identity that was hostile to non-Muslims and paranoid and suspicious of outsiders."

Students made derogatory remarks about Jews, ISoc protested regularly on campus and a student wearing a kippah was chased from an anti-Israel stall. The report also pointed to invitations issued by ISoc for radical preachers to attend university events, including one to the radical pro-al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, the mentor or the attempted Detroit airline bomber, and another to Murtaza Khan, who had referred to Jews as "filthy".

A leaflet handed out at City University in 2008

A leaflet handed out at City University in 2008

Graduate Leat Cohen, 23, said that she complained to staff in 2008 when ISoc distributed leaflets attacking Israel, featuring pictures of a dead baby.

She said that last spring when the university designated the Isoc's prayer room as multifaith, hundreds of Muslim students would gather in the university's main square to protest, making student life uncomfortable.

She said that it took too long for the university authorities to step in. "They should have got more involved in trying to control the situation. People were afraid and intimidated."

The university eventually closed the ISoc website and removed some of its privileges. A spokesman said they were reviewing the recommendations made by the report and had established a forum for the university's faith adviser to work with students on all matters of faith on campus.

Jonathan Arkush, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies, said: "The report is an important contribution to understanding how extremism can lead to hatred and intolerance breaking out and even threatening the maintenance of university life.

"The Board of Deputies has repeatedly warned of these dangers and together with UJS has worked with heads of leading universities so that effective measures are taken to combat hate speech and ensure a safe environment for all students.

"City University has made a start, but it needs to do more to marginalise those who would promote hatred and divisiveness on its campus."

Last updated: 3:28pm, October 22 2010