Jihadi infiltrates Britain's top Varsity: Heads secret "Brother's Circle" as UK sleeps
- January 16, 2010
LSE’s Hizb ut-Tahrir teacher Reza Pankhurstand the secretive ‘Brothers’ Circle’
and Alex Ralph
The Times, London
An Islamist radical whose teaching role at a leading university was exposed yesterday by The Times led a secretive “Brothers’ Circle” at which he espoused his hardline views.
Reza Pankhurst, a senior figure in the hardline group Hizb ut-Tahrir, gathered a group of male members of the London School of Economics (LSE) Islamic Society for private talks.
Mr Pankhurst, whose party advocates the creation of an Islamic state governed by Sharia, is a research student employed as a teacher in the LSE’s government department.
He is due to teach undergraduate classes this term in three topics covering nationalism and revolution in the Arab world.
Mr Pankhurst retained his position in the Islamic Society and the college despite a number of students raising concerns last year about the overt political content of his sermons at Friday prayers.
The Students’ Union confirmed that it had reported those concerns to the Islamic Society and raised them “informally” with academics.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Germany for anti-Semitism and covered by the National Union of Students’ policy of “no platform” for racist and fascist views.
Aled Dilwyn Fisher, general secretary of the LSE union, said: “We are taking these issues very seriously — there is no place for Hizb ut-Tahrir at LSE.”
Mr Pankhurst’s role at the college has again highlighted the issue of extremist radicalisation on campus.
A series of terrorist trials have featured graduates, some of whom have been indoctrinated by al-Qaeda supporters at British universities.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Detroit plane bomber, was president of the Islamic Society at University College London (UCL) in 2006-07.
Northumbria University said last night that it had cancelled a meeting, at which a controversial preacher was invited to speak next month, for fear of crowd trouble.
Abu Usamah, filmed in an undercover Channel 4 documentary saying homosexuals were “dogs” and should be “thrown off a mountain”, had been invited to speak at Diversity Week.
The Birmingham-based cleric was advertised as sharing a platform with a former British National Party activist.
A university spokesman said: “No formal permission for this event and speaker line-up have been sought from either the students’ union or from Northumbria University.
“In light of our commitment to maintain high standards of safety and student wellbeing, the university is extremely reluctant to stage this event in the format proposed and can advise that it will not go ahead as suggested.”
Abu Usamah has claimed that his comments on the documentary — which included calls for Muslims who left the faith to be executed and descriptions of women as “deficient” — were taken out of context.
He has been attracting demonstrators and controversy with a string of recent invitations to address students.
In November last year he was banned from speaking at UCL after complaints from students groups and gay activists.
Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, said the decision to invite him was “disgraceful”. But the preacher spoke at City University, London earlier in November.
The college’s Lesbian & Gay Society said the invitation risked “not just freedom of speech, but all human rights, democracy and ultimately, the wellbeing of students at City University”.
City Islamic Society had previously invited Anwar al Awlaki, the American cleric banned from Britain and believed to be in hiding with al-Qaeda groups in Yemen, to deliver a video address to a meeting.