In this briefing paper we have responded to the latest report published by the Henry Jackson Society’s project Student Rights, entitled “Preventing Prevent? Challenges to Counter-Radicalisation Policy On Campus,”. We reject it as an attempt by a neo-conservative group to limit free speech and thought on campuses.
Student Rights, a front group for the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), has been widely rejected by the student body for fueling Islamophobia. It has also undermined Palestinian solidarity efforts on campuses. A report released in 2014 by the group was labelled a “witch hunt” against Muslims by the head of the National Union of Students (NUS) at the time.
The organisation has also been condemned by the NUS executive council, the NUS Black Students’ Conference and several university student unions including the LSE, UCL, Birkbeck, Queen Mary and Kings College London. The NUS refuses to work with Student Rights.
The HJS, which supports Student Rights, is a neo-conservative think-tank whose members have condoned rendition and torture, and whose agenda, according to a recent report by Spinwatch is “deeply influenced by Islamophobia and an open embrace of the War on Terror”.
The author of the Student Rights report describes CAGE as a “pro-terrorist” group – itself a slanderous accusation. The notion that CAGE works on cases because it sympathises with terrorists, let alone is pro-terrorist, is simply untrue.
CAGE Director, Dr Adnan Siddiqui said:
“Universities have a legal grounding as bastions of free speech and the marketplace of ideas. In its embracing of the government’s broad definition of ‘extremism’, which can be applied to exclude unwanted participants from public discourse, Student Rights works directly in opposition to these core principles.”
“The report suggests a correlation between events taking place at university and terrorism, but there is no evidence of convicted terrorists attending university events. The data used in the report is completely inadequate to even make a judgement regarding correlation, and nothing links the two besides innuendo. The report rather implies that simply being a Muslim student at a UK university while these events are held may be a cause of radicalisation, an assumption that in itself is biased.”
“British universities have a tradition of hosting speakers who were deemed ‘extremist’ in their time. The airing of views that run contrary to the mainstream is necessary for society to establish the truth. Many modern movements were founded on what were once ‘extremist’ ideas. Efforts to muzzle unpopular views is a violation of the British values of openness and debate.”
“If speakers are banned, people will find platforms for the exchange of views away from the public discourse, making it less likely that unpopular views will be challenged.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)