Monday, April 05, 2010

City University

As reported by the BBC :

Some Muslim students at City University in London are praying in the street in a row over prayer room facilities. The university closed a prayer room after Muslim students were attacked in November. A new multi-faith room was opened the following month. A group of Muslim students now refuse to use the facility as they say they cannot pray in a multi-faith room. The university says it goes against its philosophy to provide a room for just Islamic students.

As reported by Gauche :

For some time now, the leaders of City ISoc have relentlessly pushed a separatist and intolerant version of Islam, repeatedly promoting apologists for terrorist violence and the most reactionary social attitudes. They have consistently and insidiously played the role of victimised innocents in order to gain sympathy, without any solid evidence, to further their cause.

This time last year, the main treat advertised for the ISoc’s annual fundraising dinner was a video link-up with none other than Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni preacher who was spiritual mentor to three of the 9/11 suicide-murderers (and a contact of the December 2009 pants bomber to boot).

The university authorities objected and al-Awlaki’s virtual appearance never happened. But was the ISoc deterred? No way. Next up was an ISoc meeting in autumn 2009 addressed by two other reactionary Islamist preachers, Abu Usamah, who is on record stating that gays should be killed, and Murthadah Khan, who is on record describing Jews and Christians as "filthy". The university Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Society and the campaigner Peter Tatchell objected, saying that the ISoc was whipping up hatred, but the meeting went ahead. At the end of last year, after it was reported that al-Awlaki had been killed by a Yemeni air attack on a meeting of al-Qaida leaders, the ISoc website praised him and the "staunch al-Qaida fighters" targeted by the raid...

In the meantime, the ISoc complained that the university’s Muslim prayer room was not safe. In November last year there was a street fight outside it, in the course of which some Muslim students were badly hurt by local youths, though it remains unclear what the fracas was about. (The building where the prayer room was is on to a dimly lit back street and is rarely used by other students in the evening.)

The university’s acting vice-chancellor, Julius Weinberg, responded, entirely reasonably, by setting up new multi-faith prayer and reflection rooms in the main university block where there is 24-hour security and no exit that can be identified as being used only by Muslims.

Some weeks later, after another controversy over an ISoc speaker meeting at which another gay-hating preacher was billed as the star attraction, Weinberg told the ISoc that its speaker meetings – as opposed to prayer meetings – could not continue to be segregated between men and women and would have to be open debates if they were to take place on university premises.

The ISoc’s next step was to assume the role of aggrieved victim. How could anyone have the temerity to suggest that Muslims should share a space (even if use of it were carefully timetabled) with others? Such arrangements are, of course, the norm in most further and higher education institutions – but the ISoc declared that the new set-up was an outrage against the tenets of Islam and started holding Friday prayers outside the university’s main entrance as a protest, to which it invited supporters from every Islamist group in London to boost numbers.

There is no evidence that the Islamic Society at City has been recruiting for terrorist organisations, or that former members have gone on to commit terrorist acts (although the same cannot be said of other student Islamic societies in the UK of a similar ideological bent). But its insistent pleading for special treatment, its consistent policy of inviting the most inflammatory separatist preachers, its repeated smearing of critics and its refusal to discuss its views in an open and civilised fashion are all intolerable in a university.

UPDATE - la lotta continua - Islamic Society statement :

".. the ISoc will no longer remain silent and take a back seat whilst innocent students and readers are manipulated into blindly following what some may say are Islamophobic secularists. No, it is time the ISoc stands up, defends itself and fights back against the likes of Ms Waterhouse and Mr Anderson; two confused secularists that promote significantly preposterous views. So where do we go from here? Well, a new vice-chancellor is due to take over in August, indeed it will be a brave vice-chancellor who confronts this issue."

It will indeed. I see a new Vice-Chancellor, geographer Paul Curran, takes over in the autumn. I can't for the life of me imagine what was wrong with previous Vice-Chancellor, Julius Weinberg. Most odd.