Hamas supporter to preach hate to Birmingham University students

Press release

Preacher of hate and supporter of suicide bombing to speak at Birmingham University

20 January 2010

Former FCO minister, Denis MacShane MP, said:

"On Monday I wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University drawing his attention to a Jew-hater and propagandist for terrorist jihad and suicide bombings who had been invited to speak on campus. I did so after public concern about Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Delta Airlines failed suicide bomber, who had been indoctrinated into his hates as an activist in the Islamic Society of University College, London.
“Today I raised the issue in the House of Commons and received the following reply from the Prime Minister:

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Azzam Tamimi, a preacher of hate who has boasted on the BBC about his support for suicide terrorist bombing and hatred of Jews, has been invited to speak on the university of Birmingham campus? Professor Eastwood, the University’s Vice-chancellor, defends that by saying that it is a matter of freedom of expression. Does the Prime Minister agree that freedom of expression, which is vital, is not the same as providing a platform for hate? We have to shut down those incubators of hate against our values and against the Jewish people?

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend raises an important point about how our universities will respond, over time, to an attempt by some people to use them as a breeding ground for extremist activity. We must always get right the balance between the academic freedom that is at the heart of what universities are about and the maintenance of security in our country. I know that most vice-chancellors want to play their part in helping us to do that.

Following the PM’s intervention MacShane said : “I also talked to the Universities Minister, David Lammy, after my exchange with the PM about Birmingham University and he assured me he would look into this case. As the story below from today's Birmingham Post shows, the University of Birmingham is in complete and utter denial about the threat to freedom posed by allowing a preacher of anti-semitic hate and jihad to speak. The University is behaving in an utterly irresponsible way. Sadly there are no limits on freedom of speech for those who preach hate against Jews, from Nick Griffin to militant Islamist jihadis. The question is whether one of our universities should provide a platform for this hate doctrine. The debate is not about dialogue or freedom of speech but about our universities incubating doctrines that can destroy the lives of those who decide to follow the path of Islamist suicide-bombing. Professor Eastwood has decided that the University should be where a spokesman for anti-Jewish and anti-democratic hate can have his say. I hope no young student is influenced by this evil ideology and decides to follow the speaker's endorsement of suicide bombing murder of Jews. if so the University of Birmingham will bear a heavy responsibility."

Birmingham Post, 20 January 2010

"University of Birmingham invites Hamas supporter to speak to students"

by Jonathan Walker
The University of Birmingham has been accused of allowing “a notorious Jew-hater and supporter of terrorist attacks” to speak to students at an event on campus.

MP Denis MacShane has written to the university’s Vice Chancellor urging him to cancel a planned talk by Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian-born academic and supporter of terror group Hamas.

But the university has refused to intervene, saying the talk should go ahead in the name of freedom of speech.

Dr Tamimi has been invited on to campus by the University of Birmingham Islamic Society, which has organised a seminar to commemorate the Israeli invasion of Gaza 12 months ago.

The society, which has also invited Labour elder statesman Tony Benn to the event, said the invitation did not mean it agreed with all his views.

He is a supporter of Hamas, the Palestinian organisation which organised suicide bombings against Israel from the early 1990s until 2005.

In an interview with the BBC in 2004, Dr Tamimi defending violence against civilians, saying: “We don’t call it violence, we call it legitimate struggle, we call it jihad.”

Asked specifically about suicide bombs which killed civilians, he said: “If the Israelis want it to stop, it can stop today.

“It doesn’t make me feel better to see anyone killed but if you come and kill me and kill my children and drive me out of my land, what do you expect? I have to defend myself.”

Dr Tamimi also told the interviewer: “At one time Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist. It doesn’t matter what people say today.”

Mr MacShane, a Labour MP and former Minister for Europe, who led a Parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism in 2006, urged university Vice Chancellor Prof David Eastwood to cancel the meeting.

In a letter to Prof Eastwood, he said: “I understand that a notorious Jew-hater and supporter of terrorist attacks on Jewish women and children in Israel is scheduled to give a talk . . . at Birmingham University.”

He accused Dr Tamimi of “glorifying Jihad and the killing of those opposed to his fanatical Islamist world view” and asked: “Should your campus be used as a platform for someone linked to Jew-hate and incitement to terrorist acts?”

But the university has released a statement insisting it will not intervene.

A spokesman said: ‘The University of Birmingham has a code of practice on freedom of speech on campus, and those seeking to invite outside speakers onto campus must fill in a freedom of speech request form at least 15 days before the proposed event.

‘The University has received a freedom of speech request from the Islamic Society for Azzam Tamimi to speak on campus and the event will go ahead as planned.

“Universities are plural societies which are home to differences of opinion, debate and views. The University of Birmingham hosts many visitors and events every year and itself is a community of 150 nations situated in a vibrant multi-cultural city. We respect the right of all individuals to exercise freedom of speech within the law; we are also intolerant of discrimination of any kind.”

A spokesman for University of Birmingham Islamic Society said: “We don’t advocate Hamas or its views. Dr Tamimi represents an important part of the dialogue which has to take place.”