Relationship with the Islamic College
The Islamic College’s sister school is the Hawza Ilmiyya in London. The Times revealed in 2006 that students at the Hawza Ilmiyya were being taught to despise non-Muslims as “filth”. The school is also sponsored by the Iranian regime, with three of the eight years in the curriculum spent at institutions in the Iranian city of Qom. Indeed, its founding charter states, “At all times at least one of the trustees shall be a representative of the Supreme Spiritual Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
One lecturer at the Islamic College is Emad Bazzi, who has taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Leeds. He writes for Al-Tawheed Journal, a publication of the Foundation for Islamic Thought, an organisation dedicated to promoting the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini. In an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald, Bazzi states that Khomeini sought the ideal of the “Perfect Man, which he came to personify”.
Amir de Martino is another Islamic College lecturer, previously known as Marco de Martino. He is an Italian neo-fascist who converted to Islam in 1987. He was also trained in Islamic classical studies at the London Imam Hussein Hawzah (prior to its merger with the Islamic College)
He is currently employed as an Educational Officer at the Islamic Centre of England, regarded by critics as a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime, and he is the editor of Living Islam, a monthly newsletter published by the Centre.
According to this 2007 article in La Stampa (original in Italian):
Marco de Martino was born in Napoli in 1964. At the start of the 1980s he got involved in the Neapolitan far right scene, and the ‘Camp Hobbit’, the gatherings of the young neofascists. In 1985, after graduating from hotel-management school, he left for London with the aim of learning English. Instead he found work in the fashion world and did not go back to Italy. In 1987 he converted to Shiite Islam, took the name of ‘Amir’ and married an Iranian woman. It was a new life for him: he took a degree in Persian and Islamic Studies, obtained a doctorate at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, and in 1996 he started to collaborate with the Islamic Centre of England, where, in short, he made a career. Today he has one of the key positions at the centre, is the person responsible for interreligious relations, holds conferences, and occasionally also leads Friday prayers.
‘Camp Hobbit’ was a youth camp run by the Italian neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) in the early 1980s. Amir was not the first neo-fascist in his family to convert to Ayatollah Khomeini’s particular brand of revolutionary Islam; La Stampa notes that his father had done the same three years earlier.
Middlesex University Islamic Society
On 2 November 2011, the Middlesex University Islamic Society (MDXISOC) invited Rizwan Hussein to give a talk on “Muslim Student Dilemma Between Girls, Clubbing & The Quran”. Rizwan Hussein is a presenter on the Islam Channel. In 2010, the Islam Channel was censured by Ofcom for allowing its presenters to encourage violence against women and advocate marital rape. The channel has also broadcast advertisements for a DVD collection of sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist cleric with links to al-Qaeda.
Rizwan Hussein also claims to have “actively campaigned to raise funds for … Interpal, Muslim Aid [and] Muslim Hands”. All three of these charities have been accused of financing terrorist groups. In addition, Interpal is classified by the US Treasury Department as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” for its role in funding Hamas, the Palestinian terror group
MDXISOC has also invited Shakeel Begg to speak to students at the University of Middlesex. The Times has reported that Shakeel Begg urged students at Kingston University to “make jihad … Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists”. He also works with the Muslim Prisoner Support Group, a charity which has had two terrorists on its board of trustees.
An event organised by MDXISOC for 14 February 2013 was cancelled by the University for breaching its “External Speakers Check Policy”. One of the speakers was to be Jalal Ibn Saeed, a Taliban supporter who says that Jews “only care about themselves” and encourages Muslims to isolate themselves completely from non-Muslims.
One of the outside organisations with which MDXISOC has worked is the charity Islamic Relief. In 2006, Islamic Relief was accused by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs of “provid[ing] support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure”.
Middlesex University Free Palestine Society
On 5 February 2013, the Middlesex University Free Palestine Society (MDX PalSoc) hosted Lauren Booth, John Rees and Asghar Bukhari, who were all invited to speak at an event titled “Save Gaza Week”.
Lauren Booth works for Press TV, an Iranian state-run media outlet that had its UK licence revoked by Ofcom. John Rees advocates terrorist attacks against British troops and supports the Iranian-backed terrorist Mahdi Army. Asghar Bukhari is a founding member of MPACUK, which was banned from university campuses in 2004 for promoting anti-Semitism. For more information on all three of these speakers, click here.
Speakers at the event included Ken O’Keefe and Jenny Tonge. During the discussion, Ken O’Keefe compared “the Jews” to Nazis, said that Israel “should be destroyed”. Further, he claimed that Israelis were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Jenny Tonge also called for Israel’s destruction, and said that “they [Israelis] will reap what they have sown”. O’Keefe is one of the authors on deLiberation: a website founded by Holocaust denier, Gilad Atzmon, as a home for those expelled from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for Holocaust denial.
In spite of the uproar caused by the event, Middlesex University Student Union awarded the Free Palestine Society an award for ‘best society event’.