Action on extremism

November 3, 1995

The National Union of Students is to send a dossier listing verbal and physical abuse that students have suffered at the hands of fascist groups, Islamic extremist groups and religious cults to Gillian Shephard, secretary of state for education and employment.

The union claims that Mrs Shephard expressed her concern at the growth of such abuse on university campuses at a meeting with the NUS in February and promised to push the Home Office to take action.

Campus Watch, a helpline set up in October of last year by the NUS, found that alarm about the activities of Hitz-ut-Tahrir, a Muslim extremist group, dominated calls to the helpline. More than 100 callers complained at the distribution of offensive material, compared to 24 complaints about material from extreme right and fascist groups.

One example of such material about Jews reads: "We must. . . destroy their existence by the lawful jihad until they are wiped out, and their survivors are left senseless, scattered and despised the world over." Another reads: "All forms of sexual perversion and deviancy eg homosexuality and child abuse are forbidden in Islam and there are severe punishments for them." Adulterers face "public stoning to death".

"Louise", a student from London who preferred not to give her real name, told how she had received death threats at home after attending a Hitz-ut-Tahrir meeting and challenging the view stated from the platform that the Holocaust is a fabrication.

"I was surrounded by angry men and followed home. Because I cannot say exactly who threatened me on the phone, the police have been unwilling to act," she said at a press conference organised by the NUS to publicise the results of Campus Watch earlier this week.

Hitz-ut-Tahrir described the NUS as "nazis". A leaflet put out by the group outside the NUS press conference accused the Union of Jewish Students of orchestrating the campaign: "Motivated by their bigoted advocacy of the racist state of Israel and recognising that Islam is the only front to such fascism, they have managed to infiltrate student union politics to such an extent that most student unions follow their vitriol against Islam blindly and unthinkingly."

Jim Murphy, president of the NUS, said: "We are not anti-Muslim and do not favour one particular religious group above another. We know that many Muslim students face racism in Britain today, and we want to help them fight it. But we are firmly opposed to the activities of Hitz-ut-Tahrir. They are, after all, banned in most Middle Eastern countries."

The NUS is also campaigning for the Internet to be regulated better. "Why should individuals be allowed to put material on the Internet that incites racial hatred and violence?" asked Mr Murphy.

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