London, UK, September 16 – In a speech to the Universities UK conference in London yesterday, the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, said that higher education institutions needed to "identify and confront unacceptable behaviour on their premises". This came after Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell suggested that there were fears that "young people are being attracted to and converted to violent extremism".
In the light of these comments the activities of Muslim students and organisations on university campuses have come under scrutiny. Some have alleged that universities are hotbeds of extremism from which terrorists are recruited. This scaremongering diverts attention from the non-violent political work that the overwhelming majority of Muslim students are involved in.
Dr Imran Waheed, a media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "Muslim students want to be able to engage in legitimate political expression at universities without fear of being branded 'extremist'. It appears that the government is intent on silencing legitimate political dissent about Western foreign policy and Western support for dictators in the Muslim world. This is in itself a form of extremism."
"Hizb ut-Tahrir is an open organisation and our non-violent political work is carried out openly. Later this month, Middlesex University Student Union will host an open question and answer session with Hizb ut-Tahrir to dispel misconceptions about our organisation. We are also writing to Universities UK to clarify our position on a variety of issues."
"The irony of Ruth Kelly's comments on extremism is not lost on us. She herself has been accused of belonging to Opus Dei ? described by some as secretive and controversial. Other critics have suggested that it recruits clandestinely on university campuses, with members running university halls of residence."