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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Extremists target students claim
Student writing in lecture hall
Universities have traditionally been a focus for recruitment, Prof Glees says
An academic claims extremists are operating on UK university campuses, threatening national security.

In a report to be published next week Professor Anthony Glees of Brunel University warns that the authorities are "ignoring the problem".

He says the extremists include Islamist Jihadists, animal rights activists and the British National Party.

University leaders have dismissed the report as "largely anecdotal".

But they say they take matters of extremism on campus very seriously.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly yesterday told universities to watch out for extremists.

She said that in the wake of the July terror attacks in London, universities should protect free thinking but inform police of "unacceptable behaviour" by students or staff.

Channels

Professor Glees, of Brunel's centre for intelligence and security studies, told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four: "There is a culture of extremism and terrorism on Britain's campuses.

"It may not be very large in number but you do not need very large numbers of people in order to do terrorism and the university authorities have simply ignored the problem."

Professor Gleeson says the extremists target universities, as well as other places, to recruit people, because societies at universities can be useful channels for them.

For his research, he studied 24 British universities and made case studies of a dozen convicted terrorists who had attended university.

There may be pockets of individuals who are operating on campus but they are not representative and they are insignificant in number - in fact they are often not students at all.


Faisal Hanjra, Federation of Student Islamic Societies

He said there was no reason to believe that any one university was more prone to being targeted by extremists than any other.

Universities UK, which represents the vice-chancellors of the country's universities, said it took the issues of extremism on campus and related issues very seriously.

A spokesperson said: "Universities UK has noted the report by Professor Glees.

"It appears to us that the report is based largely on anecdotal evidence and that university authorities were not involved or consulted in its preparation.

Intolerance

"Universities UK is far from complacent on the issue, which is why, together with ECU and SCOP, we are updating our existing guidelines on extremism and intolerance on campus.

"The updated guidance will look at the range of hate crimes and intolerance on campus, with a strategic and practical focus on solutions that promote good relations, and guidance on dealing with situations that can impede good relations."

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies said Professor Glees' comments were unsubstantiated and very damaging.

Faisal Hanjra, from the federation said: "The work that many Islamic societies have played in promoting interfaith relations, campus harmony and cordial mainstream participation has been severely undermined.

"There may be pockets of individuals who are operating on campus but they are not representative and they are insignificant in number. In fact they are often not students at all.

"We are urging all students to be vigilant and to work with university authorities to get this balance between freedom of religious practice and the safeguarding of national security."




SEE ALSO:
Call for campus extremism watch
15 Sep 05 |  Education


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