David Cameron names, shames UK's extreme universities
Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday named and shamed some of Britain's most well-known varsities, including the King's College London, for failing to combat extremism and exposing "impressionable young minds" to radical views by regularly hosting fanatics on their campuses.
London: Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday named and shamed some of Britain's most well-known varsities, including the King's College London, for failing to combat extremism and exposing "impressionable young minds" to radical views by regularly hosting fanatics on their campuses.
Cameron found that King's College London, Queen Mary University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) held the most number of events involving Islamist preachers on their campuses last year.
"All public institutions have a role to play in rooting out and challenging extremism. It is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom, it is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish," he said at the release of a report from the government's Extremism Analysis Unit.
"Schools, universities and colleges, more than anywhere else, have a duty to protect impressionable young minds and ensure that our young people are given every opportunity to reach their potential. That is what our one-nation government is focused on delivering," he added.
The unit found that at least 70 events featuring hate speakers were held on campuses in 2014, and expressed concerns about the number of young people being radicalised and travelling to join Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.
Among the speakers were Haitham Al-Haddad, Uthman Lateef, Alomgir Ali, Imran Ibn Mansur, also known as Dawah Man, Hamza Tzortis and Salman Butt, who have all publicly denounced British values.
Cameron chaired a meeting of the Extremism Task Force and called on universities to combat extremism on campuses.
This is the first time the UK government has detailed those institutions who most regularly host fanatics.
From September 21, a new legal duty will require colleges to put in place specific policies to stop extremists radicalising students, tackle gender segregation at events and support students at risk of radicalisation.
The so-called Prevent Duty requires establishments to ensure they have proper risk assessment processes for speakers and ensure those espousing extremist views do not go unchallenged.
UK Universities Minister Jo Johnson urged the National Union of Students (NUS) to drop its opposition to the Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy, which critics have claimed will create a culture of suspicion at academic institutions and could restrict freedom of speech.
He wrote to the NUS: "Universities represent an important arena for challenging extremist views. It is important there can be active challenge and debate on issues relating to counter-terrorism and provisions for academic freedom are part of the Prevent guidance for universities and colleges.
"It is my firm view that we all have a role to play in challenging extremist ideologies and protecting students on campus. Ultimately, the Prevent strategy is about protecting people from radicalisation."