The Times has published a lengthy front-page article devoted to theocratic speakers on British campuses.
It is an uneven essay. The sections devoted to jihadism are sloppier than they should be. Which speakers have been influenced by Abu Hamza or Abu Qatada? I have not encountered them. Idly mentioning that the suspected Boston bomber had admired Hamza Tzortsis, meanwhile, seems unfair for similar reasons that mentioning everyone that Breivik had admired did. More fundamentally, it should have been acknowledged that many of these speakers have opposed terrorism, and that the link between theocratic opinions and jihadist acts can be weak to non-existent.
I use the word “can” advisedly. Jihadist themes are shot throughout the Islamist milieu of British campuses, and it should disturb us. The ISOC of London South Bank University, for example, promoted videos featuring Anwar Al-Awlaki nine times over the space of three months. The ISOC of London Metropolitan University has “shared” materials from two different groups in recent weeks on its sinister Facebook page, both of which were bedecked with quotes from Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden. If right wing students were promoting arguments of David Copeland or George Rockwell there would be uproar, and rightly as these are ideas designed to provoke violence.
This debate should not pull the spotlight from fact that men preach in British universities who openly endorse the hatred of non-Muslims, and of Muslims who understand Islam differently to them; the establishment of Sharia law; the persection of non-believers, heretics and deviants and the oppression of women. This is influential, as we saw in City University, where the leadership of the ISOC were charged with lauding the virtues of slaying apostates; keeping women in the home and stoning homosexuals. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies, which is quoted in the Times, has taken no action against this behaviour, and this should be unsurprising. It has worked with some of the most brutal theocrats, and members of its officialdom openly admire them.
These phenomena are encouraging the growth of a more passionate, dogmatic and aggressive generation, and I am glad that more attention has been drawn towards them.