Socialist Worker

Media witch-hunt of Muslim LSE postgraduate teacher continues

by Estelle Cooch
Issue No. 2186

There has been no let up in the media witch-hunt of Reza Pankhurst, a postgraduate teacher at the London School of Economics (LSE).

The press are still accusing him of being involved in Islamist “infiltration” of the university.

Last week the Evening Standard and Daily Mail printed further unsubstantiated allegations about Reza’s links to Islamic group Hizb ut Tahrir.

Over 150 students, workers and societies at the LSE have signed a statement in support of Reza.

It reads, “No one should be subject to a media witch-hunt, not least a student who endured three years of imprisonment and torture in Egypt before returning to study and teach at LSE.

“These stories threaten to fuel the victimisation of Muslims that has increased dramatically over the last year. We stand in defence and solidarity with our colleagues at this time.”

Students printed the statement on A3 posters and plastered it around campus.

Mira Hammad, chair of LSE’s Palestine Society, said, “It is a reflection of how Islamophobia has become an acceptable racism that we are even obliged to discuss this.”

In an article in the LSE student newspaper, The Beaver, Reza said, “This new McCarthyism is apparent, with ‘reds under your beds’ being replaced in this instance with ‘Islamists under your desks’.”

Last week students proposed a motion to the union general meeting calling for the union to back the statement and unite against Islamophobia.

Yet sadly the effect of the media lens on the Islamic Society, and indeed any foreign student on campus, led to the motion being withdrawn. Many felt too intimidated to come to the meeting.

Students are now discussing trying again.

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Tue 26 Jan 2010, 19:23 GMT
Issue No. 2186
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