Birmingham Palestine society inquiry

By Robyn Rosen, February 10, 2011

Birmingham University's Friends of Palestine Society is under investigation after a talk it hosted during which US army veteran Mike Prysner compared Gaza to a concentration camp.

Birmingham Guild of Students (the student union) has received 60 complaints about the event, held on January 26, the same day as the university held a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration.

During his lecture, Mr Prysner said: "Gaza, quite literally, is one massive concentration camp.

"Palestinians are denied rights in Israel like Jews were denied rights in Germany. They're killed with impunity, they're massacred with impunity. I think you can very much draw an equal sign between what the Nazis did to the Jews and what is done to the people of Palestine."

More than 400 people have signed a petition supporting the right of the society to host "speakers critical of Israel" and calling on the university not to take any sanctions against the society.

But Faris Karouni, president of the Friends of Palestine Society, said: "We believe that associating the actions of the Israeli state with the history of Nazi Germany, or its iconography, is neither useful nor respectful to the sensitivities of sections of the student body and are happy to dissociate ourselves from any such comparison."

Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies have asked the Oxford Union to cancel its invitation to Muslim preacher Zakir Naik to speak by video link at an event this evening.

Home Secretary Theresa May banned Dr Naik from entering Britain last year, due to apparently antisemitic comments in which he claimed America was "controlled by the Jews".

Last updated: 12:18pm, February 11 2011