LSE Extremism Row

The director of the London School of Economics has apologised to Jewish students after the leader of extremist group Al-Muhajiroun addressed a seminar at the campus.

But the letter from Howard Davies was rubbished by pro-Israel students, who accused the university of trying to “wash its hands of this scandal”.

They also questioned how the university would react if National Front leaders were invited on to the campus.

Anjem Choudary, the group’s UK head, was among the speakers at an event this month organised by LSE-based charity INFORM.


INFORM is a controversial cult information agency financed in part by an annual consultancy fee from British government.

It claims to provides objective information from a pluralistic, middle-of-the-road perspective, but has a tendency toward defending cults.

Founded and chaired by Eileen Barker (an agnostic). Ms. Barker is a board member of cult defenders organization CESNUR. Cult apologist Jeffrey K. Hadden‘s controversial memo was written on behalf of Eileen Barker and David Bromley

The organisation, created with the help of home office funding, was set up to provide information on minority religions.

In a letter to the university’s Israel society, seen by TJ, the university’s director Howard Davies said: “I am sorry that the presence of Mr Choudary on the LSE campus has caused concern and anxiety among Jewish students at the school.”

But he insisted the event was not advertised as part of the school’s programme and the institution’s authorities were not consulted about the line-up of speakers.

Al-Muhajiroun, which is unwelcome at National Union of Students events under its no platform for racism policy, organised an event entitled 11 September: A towering day in history, to mark a year since the attacks on New York and Washington. The group’s headquarters were raided by anti-terror police last July.

Pro-Israel students expressed “deep shock” after learning of Choudary’s participation in the event days after it had taken place.

A statement from the Israel society’s executive committee said the decision to grant Choudary a platform “has caused us to feel threatened, and we feel that our right to study in a safe, secure environment, free from racism and hatred, has been violated.

“This is especially true in light of the unfortunate connection LSE has had in the past with Islamic extremism.”

Eileen Barker, emeritus professor at LSE and chair of INFORM’s board of governors, told TJ organisation tries to hear as many perspectives as possible and it didn’t necessarily agree with the invited speakers.

In a letter to the Israeli society executive committee, she said: “As the conference was about the dangers of new religions, we asked Mr Choudary as a leader in a movement that is considered by many – not just the LSESU Israel society – to be dangerous.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above), UK
May 26, 2004
Justin Cohen

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 27, 2004.
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