Muslim chaplains to 'challenge campus extremism’

Universities are to work with the government to appoint Muslim chaplains to “challenge extremist views” on campus.

December 8, 2013

Islam Muslim

The measures are outlined in a new report from a government task force on tackling radicalisation and extremism, released on 4 December.

It warns that some universities are now an “environment conducive to radicalisation”, as are some mosques, Islamic centres and prisons.

“Extremist preachers use some higher education institutions as a platform for spreading their messages,” it says. “Universities must take seriously their responsibility to deny extremist speakers a platform.”

“This is not about the government restricting freedom of speech – it is about universities taking account of the interests of all their students and their own reputations when deciding who they allow to use their institution as a platform,” it continues.

The task force will work with universities and student bodies to recruit Muslim chaplains who can challenge extreme beliefs, it says, and also provide pastoral care to Muslim students.

“Although some universities have Muslim chaplains, they are not as widespread as Christian chaplains,” it says.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, met university representatives last month and “set out clearly the government’s expectation for universities to take steps to prevent them being a permissive environment for extremism” it adds.

The task force was set up after the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May this year.

On 22 November, Universities UK released new guidance on how to handle external speakers on campus, and what to do if it is feared they could have extreme views.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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