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Why Is the University of London Welcoming a Hate Speaker?

This is a cross-post by Jonathan Hunter

Meet Azzam Tamimi, the managing director of Al Hiwar Television. A self-styled academic, Tamimi formerly directed the Islamic Institute for Political Thought – a notorious group whose advisory board was headed by Sheikh Yousuf Qaradawi, the Egyptian mega preacher who among other things has stated to kill the Jews ‘down to the very last one.’

Tamimi’s television station has regularly hosted rather unsavoury personalities. Take for instance, Wagdy Ghoneim, an Islamist extremist banned by Jacqui Smith from entering the UK. He is on record imploring Palestinians ‘to pray to Allah that we be terrorists‘ – and has frequently encouraged female genital mutilation, describing this horrific act as merely‘cosmetic surgery.‘ The channel has twice interviewed Yassir Al Siri, whom an Egyptian court sentenced to death for murdering a twelve year old girl. Muhammad Sawalha, a suspected Hamas operative and fugitive from American justice, is one of their in-house political commentators. Putting it lightly, these aren’t the guests you get on the Graham Norton Show.

Tamimi’s TV channel’s guest may be unsurprising to some. In one lecture at SOAS for instance, Tamimi happily declared the following to a sizable audience:

”You shouldn’t be afraid of being labelled extreme, radical or terrorist. If fighting for your home land is terrorism, I take pride in being a terrorist. The Koran tells me if I die for my homeland, I’m a martyr and I long to be a martyr.”

In the context of a public lecture, the tone of his language is almost a call for violence – and may almost certainly be construed as incitement by some. In 2004, Tamimi told BBC’s HardTalk that he would happily be a suicide bomber, callously asserting ”if I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it. Why not?”

In my mind, Tamimi is a dangerous man. He incites hate. He easily inflames tense campus environments. He destroys any progress made in fostering inter-faith relations. I see him as a modern day Lord Haw Haw, hopping from campus to campus, selling his bigoted nonsense to anyone that will listen.

Accordingly, Tamimi is considered a hate-speaker by both the Union of Jewish Students and the Community Security Trust. That this man will be made welcome at the University of London next week, is beyond belief.

On Monday, Senate House will be host to MEMO’s inaugural Abdelwahab Elmessiri memorial lecture. MEMO is a strange publication edited by Daud Abdullah, a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration, a document which calls for attacks on British troops and Jewish communities. MEMO’s senior editor is Ibrahim Hewitt, a trustee of the Hamas-linked charity Interpal, which is banned as a terrorist organisation in the United States. Hewitt has referred to the “so-called Holocaust.” In 2011, MEMO coordinated a speaking tour of the hate preacher Raed Salah, who has disturbingly brought up medieval blood libels, accusing Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread.

Apparently, the University of London think it appropriate to grant their facilities to such a dubious organisation. If Senate House cared to do more research, they would also find out that the event they are sanctioning celebrates a well-known Holocaust revisionist.

University authorities have been far too lax on ’safe space’ policies and defining the limits of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a beautiful concept – but its basic philosophy is often naively interpreted and even manipulated in order to justify the presence of hate speakers on campus.

A man who takes pride in being called a terrorist, glorifies terrorists, and expresses a personal desire to be a suicide bomber, surely epitomises the need for no-platform policies, and the pressing urgency for university authorities to take responsibility for what is a growing trend of hate on university campuses.

I hope the University of London take note. And if the authorities won’t hear it, students should make their voices louder.