The University of Manchester has a long history of extremism. In the late 1970s, dissident Iraqi students who had spoken out against repression in Iraq were the victims of violence by members of the National Union of Iraqi Students (NUIS). Violent confrontations were occurring on campuses. At the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) (which later became the University of Manchester), NUIS members turned up armed with chains and other weapons to an event organised by dissident Iraqis. The NUS executive was so concerned about the violence by NUIS that not only did they recommend that NUS and local students’ unions derecognise NUIS, but they brought the matter to the attention of the Foreign and Colonial Office.
Today, extremism and hostility towards minorities is still prevalent. This hostility, however, is now clearly focussed on both the University’s Jewish and homosexual students. Presently, the Students’ Union is twinned with the Al Najah University in Nablus, and many motions have been passed over the years to “support the Palestinian cause”. However, what one would assume is a genuine concern for human rights, is considered by many to be a facade designed to sanitise a wider anti-Jewish agenda. Manchester University Union’s twin university Al Najah, for example, has a history of celebrating suicide bombing attacks against civilians. Is this a suitable partner for a student body?
In 2002 the University of Manchester Students’ Union proposed a motion demanding Israeli goods should be boycotted.
In 2007 the Manchester Jewish community has voiced its concern at the increasing number anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish students at the University.
In 2010, during the Gaza War, after a month-long occupation of a University building, a motion was passed in the UMSU (University of Manchester Student’s Union) to join the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.
Most alarmingly, in 2002 a leaflet from the General Union of Palestinian Students, quoting from a neo-Nazi propaganda forgery entitled ‘Prophecy of Benjamin Franklin in Regard of the Jewish Race’, was distributed amongst students queuing up to vote. The leaflet reproduced historic antisemitic tropes – describing Jews as vampires, and warning that unless they were expelled from the United States they would enslave the country and control its economy. Further incidents occurred following the defeat of the motion – a brick was thrown through the window of a Jewish student residence and a poster bearing the words “Slaughter the Jews” was pasted on its front door. A knife was stuck in the door of another Jewish student’s residence. A series of similar motions were proposed across the country, six of which were passed, comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.
In 2010, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ (FoSIS) Palestine Conference held talks at the university by Dr Azzam Tamimi, who has told students he “longs to be a martyr”; and Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. White is a blogger with a history of racism. He has argued that Ahmadinejad did not deny the Holocaust, and that Ahmadinejad is correct to describe the Holocaust as a “myth“. Ben White recommends the writings of Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, and also claims to “understand” antisemitism.
Manchester has produced a number of persons complicit in promoting extremist ideas. Wakkas Khan, for example, was president of the University of Manchester’s student Islamic society (ISOC) in 2001-2. He opposed the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban.
Khan proposed a number of motions through the student union which compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and called for a boycott of Israeli goods.
In 2003 Khan joined FOSIS, the extremist umbrella body which claims to represent student Islamic Societies in the UK. In 2004, he became its president. In that role, he spoke up for the anti-Semitic extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, denying that it was an extremist party. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is the subject of a no platform order from the National Union of Students due to its intense anti-Semitic and pro-terror leanings. In April 2006, Khan himself made it clear to The Guardian that he was very relaxed about Hizb gaining ground in FOSIS and couldn’t name any issues where he disagreed with them.
Khan also defended Al Qaeda terrorist, Babar Ahmad, at FOSIS’s annual conference in 2005.
Under Khan’s presidency, FOSIS invited extremists to its own events. At the 2005 annual conference, one of the speakers was Azzam Tamimi. . He also spoke at Manchester University in 2010. Tamimi has said:
… anybody in the world, with faith or without faith, must come together in order to eradicate this cancer [Israel] from the body of humanity. We are ever grateful to the late Imam Khomenei for starting this occasion. … Those who resist, those who fight, those who put up jihad against racism, against Zionism are the true representatives of the Palestinians and all the Muslims regarding the Palestinian issue. … It is just a matter of time. You count my words and you remember these words. It’s a matter of time, as they withdrew from south Lebanon because of the great jihad of Hezbollah. And as they withdrew from Gaza because of the great jihad of Hamas and Islamic jihad. This black chapter in the history of humanity will eventually come to an end and we say, we say we are willing to bring it to an end peacefully. But if they don’t want peace, we have another language, we have another language, and we have every right to use that language and time will tell and history will tell. Allahu akbar!
The following year Haitham al-Haddad was invited by Khan’s FOSIS. In a sermon entitled The Intifada and the Signs of Victory, and delivered at the al-Muntada al-Islami mosque in London, Haddad describes Jews as ‘eternal enemies’ and quotes from the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion:
“[W]e must reflect on the reality of the conflict between us and the Jews, the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs. O brothers! The conflict between us and the Jews is religious, historic, civilizational, and infinitely complex; it is not bounded by time or place, and it has more than one dimension.”
In 2010, Manchester University’s Action Palestine student group attacked the Israeli Deputy Ambassador. Quoted in the Jewish Chronicle, the diplomat said:
“When we finished I could not get out of the university building. The demonstrators saw me on the way to the car and they started running towards me. … They were screaming and shouting. Two of them were on the bonnet trying to break the windscreen. It was very unpleasant. I don’t think they wanted to kill me but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me. If I had not had the police and security team I would have been beaten up.
Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “What is going on at British taxpayer-funded universities is shocking. Extremism is not just running through these places of education, it is galloping. My ears are ready and waiting to hear the strongest condemnation of this behaviour both from the heads of campus and the local authorities.”
Following the incident, the Manchester police chief, Peter Fahy, said that Jews are likely to face abuse than anywhere else in the country. He further pledged to increase police numbers on campus significantly to thwart attacks such as the one suffered by Israel’s deputy ambassador at the University.
In 2011, Action Palestine invited Norman Finkelstein, the controversial US academic, to speak to students. At the last minute, the event was moved off-campus – for which Finkelstein blamed the Jewish student society. The event was part of a tour of the UK organised by the Palestine Return Centre (PRC). The PRC is a Hamas front network who have previously courted Hungarian fascist Krisztina Morvai.
Finkelstein has praised the “heroic resistance” of Hezbollah against Israel. Previously Finkelstein has favourably compared Hezbollah with the French resistance against the Nazis. Finkelstein’s website is replete with references to Jews as Nazis.
When German publication Die Welt, said to Finkelstein: “You call the holocaust an ideology”, he replied: “To be more precise, an ideological construction, that originally served the interests of the Jewish elite in America and has now degenerated into a money-making instrument. It has become a extortion racket.”.
The current chair of Action Palestine is Razia Shah. She is a leading supporter of Viva Palestina, a controversial charity condemned by human rights groups for its support for the terror group, Hamas. On her facebook page, Shah has recommended a Viva Palestina event featuring Ismail Patel, a British extremist and a leading supporter of Hamas; Zahir Mahmood, a hate preacher who has spoken of his disgust for homosexuals; Haitham al-Haddad, an Islamist extremist who describes Jews as “apes and pigs”; and George Galloway, the controversial politician who has described rape as “bad sexual etiquette” and was condemned by student groups for racism after he walked out of a debate upon discovering his fellow speaker’s nationality.
In 2006, the Sunday Times reported that Hizb-ut-Tahrir groups had infiltrated universities across the country, including the University of Manchester. Sheikh Musa Admani, a leading Muslim counter-extremism advisor, believes fundamentalists are bypassing campus bans on groups with radical links by presenting themselves as “ordinary Muslims” to fellow students or forming societies with alternative names. Some students, says Admani, have been so deeply indoctrinated that they are close to travelling to Afghanistan and Iraq to engage in jihad, or holy war.
In 2013, a video was uncovered, published by Student Rights, which showed a speaker at the Manchester University Global Aspirations of Women Society (a Hizb-ut-Tahrir front) endorsing the execution of gay people. Manchester student Colin Cortbus attended a meeting at the Students’ Union last on 13th February, organised by the Global Aspirations of Women society. He asked the chairperson of the meeting if “in the Islamic society in which you strive for” they would “feel comfortable, personally and morally, to kill a gay man?”
“Absolutely” came the response. The speakers added later that homosexuality was an “atrocity, because it goes against what God says”.
Cortbus also asked whether, in the Islamic state that they were advocating, they would feel confident in killing him if he “did something as completely innocent as kiss another man outside the Students’ Union?”
In response, the chair of the meeting said to the small group, “Yeah, absolutely”, adding “But it’s the fact that you can’t just see it as it is. People have this issue that the punishment, penal code, everything is so completely inhumane, but who even says that these things are inhumane?”
Cortbus made the case for a pluralistic Islam, stating that many Muslims would not execute homosexuals and was told “A lot of people would“.
The student union initially responded by questioning “the way in which the information was obtained”.
Cat Gray, the MUSU’s wellbeing officer said: “We are deeply concerned with the covert filming of a student event within the Union. We are also deeply concerned by the suggestion that comments of a homophobic nature have been made.”
Staff and Union
Manchester University lecturer Mona Baker, in 2002, signed an open letter to boycott Israeli institutions. She received much criticism and created great controversy when she removed two Israeli academics, Dr. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University and Professor Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University, Israel, from the editorial boards of her journals Translator and Translation Studies Abstracts, simply because of their nationality. In an email sent to Professor Toury on June 8, 2002, Baker asked him to resign and warned him that she would “unappoint you” if he refused. Baker justified her action by stating that “I do not wish to continue an official association with any Israeli under the present circumstances”.
The National Union of Students (NUS), in addition to condemning academic boycotts as a whole, specifically condemning Baker’s sackings of the two Israeli professors as “racist”.
Campaigns and Citizenship Officer Khalil Secker ran for office on a promise to effect anti-Israel policies. He is a leading promoter of the pro-Hamas charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and has fundraised for them. MAP partner organizations include Ard et-Aftal and Ard el-Insan, two groups considered to espouse an extreme agenda.
MAP has provided money to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, a front for the terror group Hamas. Further, MAP’s President, Chris Patten, has defended Hamas in the media. The controversial playwright Caryl Churchill gave MAP the donations received at performances of her anti-Semitic play ‘7 Jewish Children'
Secker has described MAP’s founder, Dr Swee Ang, as his “political hero”. In an interview with Hardtalk, Ang voiced support for the use of suicide bombings, claiming it is a necessary tactic.
2 http://www.antisemitism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/All-Party-Parliamentary-Inquiry-into-Antisemitism-REPORT.pdf – Page 39
3 http://www.antisemitism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/All-Party-Parliamentary-Inquiry-into-Antisemitism-REPORT.pdf – Page 39 – 40
35 The Sunday Times, November 12, 2006, Islamists infiltrate four universities, Abul Taher and Dipesh Gadher
46 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yUcChoeruLs#! – from 9mins 15s