NUS has 'excited phobia of Islam'

October 12, 2001

The president of Cambridge University's student union has criticised the National Union of Students for the "whipping-up of Islamophobia" following the terrorist attacks on America.

Pav Akhtar said that NUS statements about fundamentalist group Al-Muhajiroun made after the terrorist attacks had shown a "blatant disrespect for ethnic minority students".

By singling out Al-Muhajiroun from other religious extremist groups, the NUS had made things worse for Muslim students, he said.

"The NUS has been totally irresponsible in how it has handled this," he said. "There has been a whipping-up of Islamophobia, for which the NUS has to take some responsibility."

Mr Akhtar has been sent poison pen letters.

"I have received hate mail from people telling me Hitler was right," he said. "I cannot believe somebody who doesn't even know me can hate me so much."

Fears continue for the safety of Muslim students on UK campuses after threats, abuse and hate mail.

Manchester University's Islamic Society has been advised to be vigilant after threats were made to bomb its prayer hall.

Three white men approached a worshipper and threatened to attack the society's Ambrose prayer hall, which regularly draws more than 500 people for prayers.

A university spokeswoman said: "Officials of the Islamic Society met with university security and the police who made a number of security suggestions."

Wakkas Khan, the Islamic Society chair, said the university was helping with security: "There is more that can be done, but they are listening to us and we are in constant communication."

Mr Khan, a trainee dentist, said other students had reported abuse. "One lady was tripped up and spat on, and then pushed in a separate incident," he said.

Reports in the Muslim News said that a student was attacked on a bus in Glasgow by a man who called her a "Muslim bastard" and hit her with a bottle.

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