School of Oriental and African Studies hosted more extreme speakers in past year than any other university, report finds

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From the Telegraph

The School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) has hosted more extreme speakers and events in the past academic year than any other university in the country, a new report has found. The prestigious London university, which is well-known for its liberal outlook, held 14 events that featured speakers with extreme Islamic views, according to an analysis by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).

A total of 112 ‘extremist’ events which targetted students took place across the country over a period of eight months, the report found. However, it notes that the true number is likely to be much higher, since the researchers were only able to analyse events which were publicly advertised on social media sites or elsewhere online.

Of the eight institutions that held the most ‘extremist’ events, five were in London and two were members of the elite Russell Group. Kingston University and University College London held six, while Brunel, Queen Mary, Bath, Kent and Southampton universities each held four, the report said.

Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, spoke at six different universities around the country as a representative of the organisation Cage which provoked outrage by calling Jihadi John a “beautiful young man” and told people to “support the jihad” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report also analysed what topics the speaker events covered, dividing them up into broad themes. The most common topic was “religious apologetics” with a total of 30 appearances, followed by “religious jurisprudence, exegesis and history” with 26 events, and “grievances” with 21 events.

Richard Black, director of Student Rights, said the report shows that “far too many of these events are going ahead unchallenged”, and added that a national speaker policy should be developed. “What we are seeing is that where ‘no platforming’ is occurring, it is disproportionate,” Mr Black said. “Germaine Greer, Peter Tatchell – these are the people students are standing up against, while Islamist speakers are overwhelmingly getting away with it.”

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