Staff and students at Dundee university are campaigning against the presence of police officers from Special Branch on the campus.
Special Branch set up a “community contact unit” in Dundee earlier this year. One officer told the Sunday Herald newspaper that the unit’s aim is to gather intelligence on possible terrorists. It is encouraging teachers to “identify any activities that could be considered to be extremist”.
Special Branch officers attended the freshers’ fair at the start of the term and have been sitting in on meetings of the university’s Islamic society.
Euan Dargie, a student at the university, told Socialist Worker that students are organising a public meeting to highlight the issue. He said, “Special Branch are intimidating students - Muslims students in particular - from getting involved in legitimate political activities.
“People from the Islamic society also say that attendance is down at the mosque. It is almost as if Muslims are presumed guilty until proven innocent. We can’t let a community be criminalised and intimidated like this.”
Carlo Morelli, the president of Dundee University UCU lecturers’ union, said that his union branch agreed last week to support the public meeting at the university. Speaking to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity, he added, “The actions of Special Branch on campus are controversial and divisive. By targeting Muslims they are helping to fuel a climate of Islamophobia.
“Only last week, we heard that the department of education wants lecturers to spy on ‘Asian looking’ students and to report suspicions of ‘radicalism’.
“This is a very sinister development and an attack on the civil liberties of both students and lecturers. Lecturers did not come into education to spy on our students.”