Socialist Worker

Spying on the students

Issue No. 2023

The government is asking staff at British universities to spy on “Asian looking” students and report their activities to Special Branch in order to counter “radicalisation” among Muslim students.

A department of education document claims that Muslim students from “segregated” backgrounds are being “groomed” by “Islamist extremists”. It specifically targets student Islamic societies for surveillance on campus.

Paul Mackney, the joint general secretary of the UCU lecturers’ union, attacked the government for “demonising Muslims” and warned of “anti-Muslim McCarthyism”.

“The government’s premise is wrong - radicalisation is not the result of Islamist segregation, but government policy, especially in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq,” he said, adding that “radicalisation is not the same as violent extremism or terrorism”.

This week higher education minister Bill Rammell said he supported the ban on Muslim veils introduced at Imperial College in London last October as part of a “dress code” that was widely opposed by students.

Anti-war activists at Imperial are organising against these Islamophobic measures. “We are working closely with the college Islamic society to unite in a joint campaign with as many different groups as possible,” said Camilla Royle from Imperial Respect.

“We need to make it clear that Imperial students still oppose these measures.”

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