Daud Abdullah has been appointed to teach a 22-week course entitled “Introduction to Islam” at Birkbeck, a college of the university. The move will add to growing concern in the wake of the Detroit bomber case that London University is becoming a haven for Islamic radicals.
Last year Dr Abdullah, who is also deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, signed the controversial “Istanbul Declaration.” This applauded Hamas, demanded “jihad and resistance” against Israel, sought a “complete victory for all of Palestine,” stated that “everyone standing with the Zionist entity [Israel]” should be treated the same as the Israelis, and said that the sending of “foreign warships into Muslim waters” was a “declaration of war” which must be “fought by all means.”
The then Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, claimed the declaration advocated “violence against our troops” and “attacks on Jewish communities all around the world” and broke off relations with the MCB when they refused to sack Dr Abdullah.
Dr Abdullah has refused to withdraw his support for the Istanbul Declaration, though he has always insisted that he opposes attacks on British forces. The Government last week restored ties with the MCB – but still refuses to have any contact with Dr Abdullah.
Houriya Ahmed, of the think-tank the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “This is deeply worrying. It is bad enough when hardline preachers are invited on campus but to have soneone actually lecturing on behalf of the university is far worse. It is shocking they think that this man idea is suitable to introduce students to Islam.”
The appointment is the latest in a series of controversies involving Islamist extremism and London University. The Detroit bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was allegedly radicalised while a student at UCL, another college of the university. Earlier this week the Telegraph reported how UCL’s Islamic society, which Abdulmutallab once chaired, is to host a series of speakers with links to extremism and alleged terrorism.
It has also emerged that Reza Pankhurst, a teacher at another London University college, the LSE, is a leading activist in Hizb ut Tahrir, an extremist, separatist and anti-Semitic group. Numerous other meetings with radical speakers have been held on the university’s premises. Ms Ahmed said: “There appears to be a particular problem with the University of London. They have a duty of care to their students and they are failing to provide it.”
Last week senior US government officials accused Britain of not doing enough to tackle extremism, saying the UK has the West’s “greatest concentration of active al-Qaeda supporters.” Particular concern was expressed about British universities.
The course taught by Dr Abdullah, at Birkbeck’s Stratford campus, began in October and is due to last until Easter. A spokesman for Birkbeck College said: “If anyone raises concerns about a member of our staff, we will investigate them.”
Dr Abdullah said last night: “I have never had any complaints from the authorities about my teaching. There are members of the police forces and the intelligence agencies who attend my course. I remain a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration and I believe the Palestinian people have the right to resist but I dispute Hazel Blears’ interpretation of the Declaration.” Asked whether he supported attacks on anyone who “stood with” Israel, such as British Jews or Israeli civilians, he said: “Let’s not get into semantics. I have made my views clear.”