Universities urged to spy on Muslims

A document by the British Education Ministry will ask lecturers and university staff across Britain to spy on Muslim students on suspicious involvement in "extremist" activities, the Guardian reported on Monday, October 16.

Universities urged to spy on Muslims

Sent to official bodies for consultation within the last month, the 18-page document encourages universities to proactively report students to the special branches of local police.

It claims that Islamic societies at universities have become increasingly involved in political activities and calls for monitoring their leaflets and speakers.

"Islamic societies have tended to invite more radical speakers or preachers on to campuses... They can be forceful, persuasive and eloquent," the document says.

"They are able to fill a vacuum created by young Muslims' feelings of alienation from their parents' generation by providing greater "clarity" from an Islamic point of view on a range of issues, and potentially a greater sense of purpose about how Muslim students can respond."

The document identifies Muslim students from "segregated" backgrounds as more likely to support "extremist" stances than their counterparts who are "integrated into wider society".

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 1.8 million.

There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions.

McCarthyism

Kelly will discuss with Muslim leaders and police officials a map of "extremist hotspots."

The document acknowledges university concerns of targeting certain section of their student populations.

"Special branch are aware that many HEIs [higher education institutions] will have a number of concerns about working closely with special branch. Some common concerns are that institutions will be seen to be collaborating with the 'secret police'.

"HEIs may also worry about what special branch will do with any information supplied by an HEI and what action the police may subsequently take ... Special branch are not the 'secret police' and are accountable."

The revelation drew immediate diatribe from leaders of the Muslim student unions.

"It sounds to me to be potentially the widest infringement of the rights of Muslim students that there ever has been in this country," said Wakkas Khan, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

"It is clearly targeting Muslim students and treating them to a higher level of suspicion and scrutiny. It sounds like you're guilty until you're proven innocent."

Gemma Tumelty, president of the National Union of Students, also denounced the Education Ministry's scheme.

"They are going to treat everyone Muslim with suspicion on the basis of their faith. It's bearing on the side of McCarthyism."

Hotspots

The university-spying scheme revelation came a few hours before a meeting between Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly and Muslim leaders.

Kelly will ask the Muslim leaders and police officials to identify the universities, schools and mosques where young Muslims are "brainwashed", said the Daily Mirror.

The minister said the world has changed since the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks in both US and Britain.

"The government has to change and respond to that and we appeal to local authorities to do the same.

"We need to work closer together in partnership with the police and local communities to face down this threat."

A source close to Kelly said the meeting with the Muslim leaders aims to get answers for key questions.

"Do they understand which sections of their communities might be vulnerable to extremism? Have they mapped likely hotspots," the source asked.

"Are they alert to the threat of extremism in universities, colleges and schools? Is there a vacuum of information that can be exploited by extremists?"

The source said the government believes that once hotspots are identified, mosques can help promote links between Muslim and non-Muslim communities."

Kelly will stress that identifying the hotspots is merely the first step to neutralizing the "radicals".

Schemes will also be organized at schools and universities to promote "shared values" like the rejection of violence and "divert young people from the threat of radicalization," the daily added.

Kelly said last week that her government would tie state funding to only Muslim organizations fighting extremism.

A recent poll showed that eighty-six percent of British Muslims, estimated at around 1.8 million, would inform police if they suspected a fellow Muslim was involved in a terror attack.

The poll, conducted by ICM, also showed that 56 of British Muslims did not believe a police warning that there were thousands of extremist British Muslims willing to carry out attacks inside the country.

The sizable Muslim minority has been in the eye of the storm since the terrorist attacks on London transport on July 7, 2005, which killed 56 people, including the four British Muslim bombers.

Physical and verbal attacks against British Muslims have been on the rise since Commons leader Jack Straw sparked a controversy, saying Muslim women should remove their face veil.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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