A University of Birmingham professor and student have come under fire for supporting a debate held by an extremist Islamist organisation.
Sociology professor John Holmwood spoke at a debate on secularism organised by the Hizb-ut-Tahrir group, which on its website constitution calls for a pan-Islamic caliphate and the execution of people who convert from Islam. Yasmin Patel, who was elected to be the minority students’ support officer on the Guild of Students at the university, sent out emails encouraging attendance at the debate.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which translates as Party of Liberation, is a global political group, which has been accused of fostering extremism against women and Jews. Its constitution calls for a state of constant war against Israel.
Prof Holmwood said the meeting, held in Small Heath on Sunday, had not been involved with extremism and it was important to engage groups in debate. He said:
“There were about 100 people there, probably 100 per cent Muslim, but 90 per cent of them weren’t Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Not engaging views is more dangerous than some of the opinions of those you are engaging with. I went there not knowing what to expect. What happened was there was a good debate and people came up afterwards and said some of them wanted to come up to the university and talk about issues of secularism, and that can only be a good thing.”
Adam Sher, secretary of the University of Birmingham’s Jewish Society, said: “A minority officer, in my opinion, shouldn’t be espousing the views of Hizb-ut-Tahrir.”