The university was criticised for having a “passive stance” on dealing with religious controversies on campus, after a Muslim student was abused by a fundamentalist guest speaker.
Members of the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Societyquestioned the university’s policy on vetting speakers and securing peace among faith groups, following the verbal attack on a Shia Muslim by preacher Murtaza Khan during a lecture in February.
Mojtaba Masood, a final year Pharmaceutical Science student, said the preacher had become aggressive towards him during the Q&A session but when he reported the incident, the university did not act.
Mojtaba said: “I discussed this with the chaplain but Kingston University seems to have a very passive stance on dealing with these critical issues.”
Khan is a teacher of Wahhabism, the primary religious movement behind extremist Islam, and was exposed advocating extreme intolerance towards non-Muslims in the Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque in 2008.
Mojtaba said: “I feel it is important to make sure that relations between faith groups remain peaceful and those speaking against peace should not be allowed into the university.
“At least the university should be more active in these matters rather than sit back and wait for something to happen. No one should go through the experience I had in any university in the UK.”
Mohsen Al-Khoei, Ahlul Bayt’s president, said he was very concerned about the conduct of the preacher: “It is indeed speakers like Khan who spread extremism and hatred on campus and it is unfortunate to see that despite all the warnings given to the university, such speakers are still given permission to come and corrupt our academic institutions.”
But the president of Kingston’s Islamic Society, who hosted the event at KU, denied any evidence of extremism in Khan and he said he would invite the preacher in the future.
He said: “I’m not defending radicalism but I refuse to accept hear-say.
“Khan’s lectures are a great motivation to young people. He inspires youth to come away from bad influences like gang life, to try to help them in life.”
Stan Brown, the university chaplain, warned students that there were always two sides in every debate. He said: “If a speaker is known to be controversial, special care is taken to ensure that the meeting is properly run and that there is a right of reply to the views expressed.”
Student union activities officer, Rhiannon Hiscocks, confirmed that there were problems at the Isoc event but denied any shortcomings in the vetting procedure of the university. She said: “We vet all the speakers. But there is a definite line between someone who should not be allowed on campus, like a fascist speaker, and someone who is just controversial because students want to have controversial speakers.”
A spokesperson for Kingston University confirmed that correct procedures had been followed with regards to Khan: “Kingston University takes its responsibilities in relation to the safety and well-being of its staff and students very seriously and does not tolerate any behaviour that might be construed as incitement to racial hatred. However, the University also has an obligation to protect and promote freedom of speech.
“We can confirm that the University procedures were followed by the Student Union authorities in respect of Murtaza Khan’s invitation to speak to the Islamic Society.”