Hamas supporter who condones suicide bombing to speak at Birmingham University
A supporter of a banned terrorist group who condones suicide bombing is to speak at Birmingham University this week, raising further fears about the spread of Islamic extremism on campuses.
Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian academic who is now based in London, is infamous for declaring that sacrificing oneself is a “noble cause”.
He has said that he would blow himself up in a strike against Israel, were he allowed back in the country, and has declared his support for Hamas, which is outlawed in Britain under the Terrorism Act.
He told the BBC in 2004: “You see, sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity.”
Mr Tamimi has been invited to speak at Birmingham University by its Islamic Society, at an event on Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the “Israeli-led carnage” in the “concentration camp that is Gaza”.
His forthcoming appearance has been criticised by the Centre for Social Cohesion, a think tank that highlights Islamic radicalism in Britain.
Its director, Douglas Murray, said: “Birmingham University is clearly in denial. Our letter to them unmistakably demonstrates that Azzam Tamimi has repeatedly supported violent jihadist acts, and their Director of Academic Services has completely refused to acknowledge this.”
A spokesman for the university said: “The University of Birmingham has a code of practice on freedom of speech on campus, and those seeking to invite outside speakers onto campus must fill in a freedom of speech request form at least 15 days before the proposed event.
“The University has received a freedom of speech request from the Islamic Society for Azzam Tamimi to speak on campus and the event will go ahead as planned.
“Universities are plural societies which are home to differences of opinion, debate and views. The University of Birmingham hosts many visitors and events every year and itself is a community of 150 nations situated in a vibrant multi-cultural City. We respect the right of all individuals to exercise freedom of speech within the law; we are also intolerant of discrimination of any kind.”
The Islamic Society’s website denies it condones terrorism and states: “ISOC is completely against and appalled by the blowing up of buildings and the killing of innocent people, and this is something that the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, forbade.”
Concerns about allegations of Muslim extremism on British campuses have been heightened following the alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the former president of University College London’s Islamic society, to bring down a passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day.