Originally published in The Telegraph
Mohammed Emwazi, or ‘Jihadi John’, has reignited debates about radicalisation at Britain’s universities. Radhika Sanghani asks experts whether they need stronger laws to ban ‘hate preachers’ from spreading their views on campus.
Rupert Sutton, founder of Student Rights – a group that fights extremism on campus – agrees with this. “Our basic position is that if they’re a member of a No Platform organisation, universities should be looking at stopping them from speaking. If they have a history of speaking against minorities or religion, universities should seriously consider whether they allow the event to go ahead,” he tells me.
But his issue?
That “there is a lack of consistency in the fact that not all student unions accept the policy. It can also be circumvented by groups/speakers using different names, or students not announcing the affiliation of speakers.” What he wants is for universities to go further – not just banning speakers who incite terrorism, but those who incite any kind of violence at all:
“‘Inciting terrorism’ is a restrictive guideline. We would call for someone who incites violence against homosexuals or women [to be banned].
“In cases where speakers have extremist views but don’t have a history of inciting violence, it would be best if they’re monitored and turned into debate. You can’t say blanket, all speakers should be prevented, because each individual speaker has to be looked at. It’s quite a tricky situation to have one standard for.”