STUDENTS
27/02/2015 11:43 GMT | Updated 18/03/2015 11:59 GMT

'Extremist Students Consistently Given A Platform At Westminster', While 'Useless' SU Does Nothing

Westminster University has been accused of "consistently" giving extremist students and visitors a platform, while the "useless" student union remains inactive.

One second-year student told The Huffington Post UK many members from the university's Islamic Society held "uncomfortably pro-politically Islamist views", while the student union president admitted the gay and transgender student community "feel unsafe".

A graduate at Westminster also published a stream of tweets, culminating in asking his former institution to "sort your shit out", saying discrimination against "gays, non-Muslims, and moderate Muslims was definitely a recurring issue from the extremists".

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Rumman, who did not wish to have his surname published, said many of Westminster's Muslim students are moderate and liberal, and "friendly".

"The problem comes with a certain number of pupils, societies and the sheer ignorance of the student union," he says.

"The Islamic Society at the university for one, is known to invite radical preachers at events and having seen their members (note I am not a member of this society) it is safe to say there is an uncomfortably pro-politically motivated Islamist view held by many of them.

"The view held in the university in general is quite opposed to this, as most Muslims who attend are either very moderate and liberal, or non-practicing but there is a sense that the student union is useless when it comes to dealing with the issue. A few years back the person elected to become the student union's president was well known to have links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an extremist organisation, this was well published in the media."

Tarik Mahri sparked fears the university was being infiltrated with Islamist extremist when he was elected president in 2011,

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One student society leader was reluctant to speak on behalf of students, but did tell HuffPost UK: "We have a diverse student body, so I think the answer is there are a lot of emotions and feelings flying around.

"I can say that some of my Muslim friends certainly feel afraid of being stereotyped and being pigeon-holed, I also know that many of the LGBTI community on campus feel unsafe."

Avinash Tharoor, who graduated with a first in international relations in 2013, tweeted:

Another student agreed, adding:

Rumman was hopeful, however, the student union would "bow down" to public pressure and "take a closer look at extremism at our university".

"I am optimistic due to the suspension of an event by the Islamic Society that was to host an anti-homosexual preacher," he added. "The university has a general feeling of safety with staff and students playing their full part in making each other feel comfortable. Hopefully, the university as a whole will not be blanketed with the word 'extremist' and if that is the case, there is no fear of any stigmatisation."

HuffPost UK recently revealed the university was on amber security alert status, issuing warnings to students and staff it may be carrying out random bag and vehicle searches, following the revelations.

jihad john

Jihad John aka Mohammed Emwazi

The university announced on Thursday it had postponed an event hosting a controversial Islamic speaker due to security concerns.

Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad was due to speak to the Islamic Society at an event titled "Who is Muhammad?"

mohammed emwazi

The University of Westminster, in central London

The university's LGBTI society had called Al-Haddad an "anti-gay preacher" and "homophobic".

The University of Westminster Islamic Society (ISOC) released a statement on its Facebook page apologising for the inconvenience after the event's postponement. ISOC had originally organised Al-Haddad to speak on misconceptions surrounding the Prophet Muhammad, with the University of Westminster Students Union backing the event.

A spokesperson from the University of Westminster said: "We condemn the promotion of radicalisation, terrorism and violence or threats against any member of our community. We have strict policies to promote tolerance among our 20,000 student community, who come to study from over 150 nations.

"Any student found to be engaging in radicalised activity or intimidating others would be referred to disciplinary procedures. As a London-based university operating in a diverse multi-cultural city, we are fully aware of all the influences within this international city. With other universities in London, we are working together to implement the Government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism.

"The Islamic Society is one of many societies that are part of the University of Westminster Students’ Union which is an independent body. The University does not control its activities but does monitor that it is legally compliant. The Education Act 1986 places two competing responsibilities on universities: to promote free speech and a duty to protect students from harm. We have introduced a comprehensive external speaker policy and processes to manage these legal obligations, which event organisers must adhere to.

"We strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about radicalisation to speak out and contact our pastoral team at the University. The safety and security of our students is our foremost concern."

HuffPost UK has contacted the ISOC for comment.