Friday, July 03, 2015

UK: 100 extremists a year lecture at universities: Fanatics given a platform to spread hatred of the West despite ministers demanding crackdown on radicalism

Universities are providing a platform for more than 100 Islamist extremists every year, a disturbing report will reveal next week.

The fanatics are being allowed to make speeches at leading academic institutions despite ministers calling for a crackdown on radicalism.

The study says that more than 20 students who attended UK universities have been convicted of terrorism, or have lost their lives waging jihad in Syria.

They include young men guilty of planning a 'dirty bomb' attack and a plot to blow up a crowded London night club.

The report was compiled by the Student Rights group, which is a project run by the Henry Jackson Society – a respected Westminster think-tank.

It revealed that a string of student bodies have refused to participate in the Government's anti-extremism strategy, Prevent.

Rupert Sutton of Student Rights said: 'Universities should be the best place to challenge extremist ideas, yet at present this is simply not happening – something that must change if we are to successfully oppose on-campus radicalisation.

'Extremism on university campuses is a very serious issue, as the evidence presented in this report shows. Worse, the dominant narrative around Prevent remains a negative one – often fuelled by the very extremists it seeks to oppose, who campaign to undermine attempts to challenge the problem.'

Researchers carried out an exhaustive survey of social media and university websites and other literature to log speaking events.

Last year, there were 132 speeches by extremists, which featured claims such as 'the West is waging a war against Islam'. There were also 145 events in 2013 and 132 in 2012. While the far Right hosted a handful of events, the lists were overwhelmingly dominated by Islamic speakers.

The Student Rights report says the speakers have 'expressed views which promote the idea that there is a Western war against Islam, support individuals convicted of terrorism offences and express intolerance or opposition to non-believers'.

The hardliners also oppose democracy and speak in favour of being governed by religious or sharia law.

According to the report, the university which tops the league table for hosting extremists over the past three years is Queen Mary, in East London. Westminster, Kingston, King's College and Aston University complete the top five.

The speaker who appears most regularly is Hamza Tzortzis of the Islamic Education and Research Academy, which tried to make men and women sit apart during a debate at University College London.

Tzortzis has been criticised for stating that apostates (non believers) who fight against the Muslim 'community…should be killed'. He also reportedly said: 'We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom.'

Other speakers welcomed on to campuses have attacked the 'scourge' of homosexuality.

The student unions at King's College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies said they would not take part in Prevent unless compelled by law and would educate students on the 'danger' it poses.

The National Union of Students pledged to 'block or cease accepting' any Prevent funding.

The NUS Black Students' Campaign called on all universities to 'condemn/disassociate' from the key programme, which it claims 'attempts to demonise and isolate Islamic societies'. The NUS passed a motion claiming that Prevent had resulted in a 'racist witch-hunt in the tradition of McCarthyism'.

David Cameron this week ordered a 'full spectrum' response to extremism to 'take on the radical narrative that is poisoning young minds'.

From today, schools, town halls, police and health bodies will all have a statutory duty to pay 'due regard to preventing people from being drawn into terrorism'.

But a duty for universities and colleges to also adopt the guidance has been held up by a row over how it should apply to 'extremist speakers'.

Originally, the Home Secretary wanted the power to issue a ministerial direction, backed by the threat of contempt of court proceedings, to universities that refused to comply with bans on extremist speakers.

All speakers would have been vetted in advance, with student unions required to give 14 days' notice. Universities, however, insist they have to promote free speech.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'Further guidance for higher and further education institutions on managing external speakers will be published following parliamentary approval of the specific advice on this matter. The duty will commence for universities and colleges once the guidance has been published.'

Security minister John Hayes said: 'The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism. Protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation is a job for all of us. The new duty will make sure key bodies across the country play their part.'


School Warns Parents To Dress Daughters Modestly To Avoid Offending Muslim Refugees

The head teacher at a school in a small town in the southeast corner of Germany has sent a letter warning parents to prevent their daughters from wearing any skimpy clothing because about 200 war-displaced Syrian refugees are living in a shelter next to the school’s gym.

The fifth-grade to 11th-grade school is Wilhelm-Diess-Gymnasium, reports Die Welt, a German newspaper.  The school is located in Pocking, a Bavarian borough (pop.: 15,034) located 14 miles south of the somewhat larger German city of Passau.

In his note to parents, head teacher Martin Thalhammer explained that female students should dress especially modestly to avoid offending the Syrian refugees with the sight of too much skin.

“Revealing tops or blouses, short shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings,” Thalhammer instructed.

“The Syrian citizens are mainly Muslims and speak Arabic,” the head teacher wrote, according to Russia Today. “The refugees are marked by their own culture. Because our school is directly next to where they are staying, modest clothing should be adhered to.”

An unidentified local politician told Die Welt he supports the head teacher’s admonition. “If underage Muslim boys go to the pool, they are completely overwhelmed trying to see girls in bikinis,” the politician reportedly said. “The boys — in their culture bare skin of women is totally frowned upon.”

The letter also notes that the Syrian refugees will be barred from school grounds.  “For the refugees, access to the school gardens and buildings is strictly forbidden,” Thalhammer wrote. “The same goes for the school grounds during the day. The number of teachers on duty during breaks has been increased.”

The school’s gym has been shuttered while the refugees reside in their makeshift accommodations next to the school. Physical education classes have been moved to a nearly elementary school.


Australia: Queensland’s gifted students neglected as teachers focus on strugglers

GIFTED students are being overlooked in the classroom, with schools instead focusing attention on strugglers.

University of Southern Queensland special education lecturer Mark Oliver said there was a danger smart students were being turned off school as they coasted through the curriculum.

Mr Oliver warned that gifted students needed support to reach their full potential.

“When you get a bored student they can refuse to go to school or refuse to participate because they don’t see the point ... it then affects their long-term attitudes to school and self-esteem,” he said.

Mr Oliver said there was a focus on teaching for tests and getting students to obtain minimum standards, rather than providing extension to gifted students. Policy change was needed across the education sector.

“Maybe that’s not the best way to go for developing the creativity and talent we need for future careers,” he said.

An Education Department spokesman said schools were committed to meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.

Mr Oliver said teachers did their best but resources were often targeted towards struggling students, rather than those who needed to be challenged.

“We want to make sure these kids are tracking into their abilities for applied creative purposes and are not just producing future worker bees,” Mr Oliver said.

Several workshops have opened over the school holidays to encourage gifted students in Queensland, aiming to give them the best chance at developing their skills.

Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children president Anthony Stevens said gifted children needed a challenge.

“People think gifted children don’t need any extension,” he said.  “There’s that idea that we have got them to a certain level and can stop worrying.

“But the problems of the future are going to be solved by people who can come up with wonderful, creative solutions. That isn’t going to be the stuff taught in classrooms because we don’t know it yet.”

He said gifted students needed to be challenged with teachers often trying their best to accommodate students at all levels. “Just like anybody else, gifted kids need to experience what it’s like to work at something,” Mr Oliver said.

An Education Department spokesman said funding had been allocated to each region to support education of gifted children and to develop strategies to meet the needs of students and teachers.

“This is achieved through challenging learning experiences that engage these students in their learning and support them to keep advancing their knowledge and skills,” the spokesman said.

He said there were several programs and awards, including the Queensland Academies’ Young Scholars Program and the Peter Doherty Awards, which were geared towards recognising gifted students.


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