Alleged Al-Qaeda given platform at Southampton Uni

“He is opposed to the ideals he and his organisation claim to protect”

Note: the Editor has since written an apology for the publication of this article, which can be found here.

Last night I had a telephone call that bore some shocking news, the call was from the Director of The Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy (IMED) and the news was that Moazzam Begg was to visit the university.

Now you may react, as many have when first reading this name, with puzzlement and apathy but Moazzam Begg is a man with links to some quite worrying people. He is booked to speak as part of Islamic Awareness Week. I cannot believe we have given him a platform to spread his vile, pro-jihadist message.

Britain’s universities are becoming the best place for extremists to tout their message and breed the type of sentiment that leads to terrorism. I am afraid that at this Thursday’s meeting of the Islamic Society, he might intend to deliver a dangerous message to stir up racial tension and reinforce the claim that says Western society isn’t compatible with the Muslim faith.

Note: the above paragraph has had the following italic sentences removed due to libel:

It is obvious that he intends to stir up racial tension and reinforce the claim that says Western society isn’t compatible with the Muslim faith. The aftermath of this speech could be truly terrible and speaking as a student at this university, that is very worrying.”

You may be asking yourself what basis I have to believe that Begg’s talk will be of an extremist nature. I answer: through much research carried out by both me and the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy. Begg runs the organisation Caged Prisoners that purports to be a human rights organisation which raises awareness of those detained as part of ‘The War on Terror’. But the company it keeps has led many to question the legitimacy of his organisation and its aims.

All of Moazzam Begg’s contacts point to the suggestion that he is opposed to the ideals he and his organisation claim to protect. Those of liberty and civil rights”                 – Sam Westrop, Chairman of the IMED.

It is also well worth noting that Gita Sahgal of Amnesty International believed that Amnesty’s links with Begg

“fundamentally damage the organisation’s reputation”

and that Amnesty International has mistakenly linked itself with his “Jihadi” group. She felt compelled to resign as Amnesty seemed unconcerned that Cageprisoners promoted violent Jihad. Indeed, Cageprisoners actively promotes extremist Imam al-Awlaki on its website and has attempted to hold public meetings in London (at Kensington and Chelsea Town hall) with him on live video link. Fortunately, Kensington and Chelsea councillors are more scrupulous about who they allow to speak than our university and the meeting was monitored with all Awlaki content prohibited.

Cageprisoners advertised the event with this poster on their website

I am curious; firstly, why Cageprisoners advertises an open meeting only in Arabic? It is a rather clandestine way to go about it. It certainly precludes anyone who doesn’t understand Arabic. Maybe the type of person with guts enough to attend and oppose this man and his squalid views?

For the benefit of those who aren’t fluent readers of Arabic and cannot comprehend the words on the picture: they declare belief in Islam, the big word is for Jihad.

The fact that it is finished with a Sword and a stylised AK-47 makes the message this event intends to deliver clear, and yet Southampton University know this man is speaking and know of his persuasions.

UPDATE: The Tab previously said this poster was from the Islamic Society, which was incorrect – this poster was only used by Cageprisoners to advertise the event.

The fact that he hasn’t seen more opposition from the powers that be is truly despicable. It seems that SUSU and this university are more than happy to allow extremism to penetrate our campus, maybe Southampton will be the next university to breed terrorism, who knows?

The Islamic Society spoke to The Tab on the issue:

As you can appreciate we could have discussed a great variety of topics this week, but decided to let the student of Southampton choose what they wanted. The evening topics have been chosen based on this feedback.

Moazzam Begg has spoken at the University of Southampton before …. in fact he has spoken at every major university in the UK and is regularly invivted to Oxford, Cambridge, York and Durham.

In the mean time, I hope you will all write to the Vice Chancellor, Don Nutbeam, as I have at: [email protected] to tell him that we will not stand idly by while our university gives a platform to extremist rhetoric. (Find an email template here.)

We cannot let this stand.