Birmingham University Students’ Union – which is officially known as the “Guild” to avoid being mistaken for a real Union, with actual workers – appears to be promoting a debate organised by the fascist political party, Hizb ut Tahrir.
Actually, that may be slightly unfair.
Specifically, the promoting is being done by a woman called Yasmin Patel, in her capacity as Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer: a post to which she was “elected”, unopposed, having “run” as the Islamic Society candidate, on a slate put together by the Student Broad Left group, which I believe includes the Socialist Workers’ Party and Socialist Action.
Yasmin Patel has been working hard to encourage people to attend this Hizb ut Tahrir event: including writing to various lecturers, suggesting that they advise their students to attend.
A few years ago, very few people knew that much about Hizb ut Tahrir. The party’s political programme, which includes the creation of the theocratic caliphate, which would impose a form of religious and gender apartheid, in which sexual minorities and religious dissenters would be executed, was only really known to Islamists and those of us who follow the extremes of the political spectrum. All that has changed.
The convictions in Denmark for incitement to racial hatred earned by the party’s representative, the association of those who have gone on to commit acts of terrorism, the racist propaganda, and the relationship of the party to the Al Qaeda supporting Al Muhajiroun are all common knowledge. Hizb ut Tahrir is treated by the National Union of Students, quite rightly, as the equivalent of the British National Party, and covered by that organisation’s No Platform policy. It is, in fact, rather more extreme than the BNP.
As readers of this blog will know, I oppose the banning of Hizb ut Tahrir, as long as the organisation does not engage in, or directly incite, acts of terrorism. I am also in favour, generally, of taking on fascists in debate: the better to defeat them.
However, students of Hizb ut Tahrir will know that the party’s central mission in recent years has been to represent themselves as a respectable, mainstream political party. Unusually, this event is billed as a Hizb ut Tahrir meeting. The party operates, more usually, by creating front organisations which then organise debates to which respectable political figures are invited to discuss aspects of theology with members of this fascist group. By putting on meetings to which prominent figures from outside Hizb ut Tahrir participate, the party creates the illusion that they are the authentic political voice of British Muslims. Successful past events enable Hizb ut Tahrir to encourage other organisations to host them, and the media to take them seriously. The fact remains that in reality, Hizb ut Tahrir are a tiny fringe group with little traction in this country.
Make no mistake. This is a Hizb ut Tahrir debate: billed as such. This is how Hizb ut Tahrir builds the profile of the organization, and recruits new members.
I can guess why Yasmin Patel is promoting Hizb ut Tahrir. There is little to say about her: except that I would have thought that her actions are utterly incompatible with her office. BME Students Union officers should not be promoting racist totalitarian organisations. A union officer with responsibility for standing up for minorities should not be promoting an organisation which seeks to attack and discriminate against them. Can you imagine the furore if – say – a Womens’ Officer were to promote a ‘debate’ with a British National Party member: let alone an event organised by it?
I’d hope that the Guild will no confidence and remove Yasmin Patel as soon as possible. If she had any shame, she’d resign immediately.
The full story is at the Ministry of Truth blog. Go and read it.