Rosie Waterhouse

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Rosie Waterhouse is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Publishing at City University and freelance journalist with extensive experience as an investigative reporter, having worked on the staff of five national newspapers and as a TV reporter.[1]

According to a bigraphical note on the City University website:

She has twice been a member of the Sunday Times Insight Team and worked for the Independent and Independent on Sunday, where she was investigations editor, and for BBC Newsnight, where she contributed to a BAFTA for a film revealing how BSE had spread through the animal feed chain.
She began her career as a reporter on the Chester Chronicle, and later went on to work for Chester News Service, the Manchester Evening News, the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Telegraph.
Rosie has been a lecturer and personal tutor at City University since July 2003 and has taught practical journalism and research on several courses including the Postgraduate courses in Newspaper and Television Current Affairs Journalism. She is currently teaching features and investigations on the BA in Journalism and a Social Science. She developed the pioneering MA in Investigative Journalism which began in September 2007. She has been awarded an Introductory Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education and is an associate member of the Higher Education Academy.
Her investigations have included: revealing the existence of the River Companies, a secret network of companies run by the Conservative Party to launder political donations from companies; babies for sale; MPs for hire. After investigating the origins and spread of allegations of Satanic ritual child abuse she was the first British journalist to reveal it was a myth.
As a freelance, Rosie has contributed articles to The Guardian's G2 section, the New Statesman, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Times Educational Supplement, GQ, The Oldie and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Search magazine. She has most recently contributed a series of articles in Private Eye on the Satanic Panic. Her television contributions include working as consultant on a BBC Newsnight film on the recent Satanic child abuse panic on the Isle of Lewis, and as research consultant on a BBC Real Story documentary on the Rochdale Satanic abuse controversy. [1]

Views on Islam on campus

In March 2010 Waterhouse, wrote in the Independent that in 2009 she had approached Malcolm Gillies, then Vice-Chancellor and President, to say that she was 'concerned about the activities of the Islamic Society':

In April 2009, organisers invited three radical Islamist preachers to address the society's annual dinner, with the "brothers" and "sisters" segregated, and the latter forbidden to ask questions. One preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki , was to speak by video-link from Yemen, because he is banned from Britain for alleged links to terrorists. But the then vice-chancellor Malcolm Gilles [sic.] intervened and the video-link was banned.

After this I met Gillies to say I was concerned about the activities of the Islamic Society. Several research papers and Ed Husein's [sic.] alarming book, The Islamist suggested that certain British universities, including City, were potential recruiting grounds for violent extremists. We agreed this was a sensitive subject but I argued that it was time universities took action. Gillies, who has since moved to London Metropolitan University, said there were two taboo topics among vice-chancellors – Islamic extremism and pensions.

My anxiety continued. I was particularly disturbed by the sight of Muslim female students wearing the niqab, a dress statement I find offensive and threatening. Don't they value the rights and freedoms they enjoy in Britain? In Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan they are forced to cover up and denied an education.

One of my journalism students, who is a Muslim woman, interviewed four British-born Muslim girls who said they began to wear the niqab only after coming to City and joining the Islamic Society. They found it "liberating", they said.

I think the niqab should be banned at university. Some of my colleagues agree with me; others don't... [2]

In July 2010, Waterhouse returned to the subject recounting the impact and response to her article at City. 'Naively', she writes 'I did not anticipate the furore that followed.' The furore included:

This unleashed a torrent of hostile comment on The Independent website, which ran to 17 pages. I was accused of being a racist and Islamaphobic. Several posts said I should resign or be sacked. Copies of the article were posted around the journalism department at City, with invitations to add comments. Most were angry and critical.

A colleague, Paul Anderson, wrote an article on his blog saying universities were secular institutions and supporting my stance against the potential promotion of violent extremism on campus (although he was not in favour of a niqab ban).

In May, while on holiday overseas, I received a text message from Anderson saying my photograph and his had been posted on the Islamic Society website together with a diatribe accusing us of being Islamaphobic and harbouring "outright hatred" of all Muslims. To me, this was a deeply disturbing and palpable threat. I contacted Anderson and the acting vice-chancellor, Professor Julius Weinberg, to instruct the Islamic Society to remove my photograph and the offending article.

Anderson telephoned the Islamic Society president Saleh Patel. He explained how upset I was at this perceived threat, and wanted the items removed, but Patel refused. When I returned to university, I felt all eyes were on me. To my distress, the Islamic Society continued to refuse to remove my photograph or the article. They might not have contained any overt personal threat but they were intimidating, at the very least.

It took almost two weeks and the intervention of the vice-chancellor, the students' union and, eventually, the police before my photograph and Anderson's were removed. The article stayed. Relations deteriorated and the Islamic Society was deregistered as a recognised society of the students' union. Their website has been taken down.

So, where do we go from here? The acting vice-chancellor maintains that a multi-faith prayer room is permissible according to numerous Muslim scholars – many Muslims use it. He will only allow an Islamic society to be reconstituted as a more inclusive Muslim faith organisation that agrees to adhere to the university's core values and principles – which exclude gender segregation and advocating violence.

City University is not alone in learning how to deal with potential Islamic extremism. Several prominent members of student Islamic societies have been convicted of terrorism. Universities UK has established a working group to investigate the scale of the problem and work out how to proceed.

Most students have left for the summer break. Come September, it remains to be seen whether a newly constituted Islamic faith group – one which allows the voice of moderate Muslims to be heard – will have a recruitment stall at Freshers' Week. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 City University Home > Journalism > Faculty > Course Directors > Rosie Waterhouse, accessed 16 September 2010
  2. Rosie Waterhouse, 'Universities must take action on Muslim extremism', Independent, 18 March 2010.
  3. Rosie Waterhouse, 'Will the voice of moderate Muslims be heard at City?', Independent, 1 July 2010.