Teaching About Terrorism: City University London

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In March 2010 Rosie Waterhouse, the director of the MA in investigative journalism at City University London, 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'. An extract of the article is reproduced below:

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... [1]

Freedom of Information Request 1

I can confirm that City University London holds the information you requested. However we are withholding that information since we consider that the exemption under section 8(1)(b), applies to it. Section 8(1)(b) uses the phrase “the name of the applicant” in section 8(1)(b) which indicates that the real name of the applicant should be used when requesting information and not any other name, for example, a pseudonym. We note you have posted responses to previous requests on your website www.academicfoi.com. This includes the text Requests; If you wish to suggest a request to a specific university please e-mail details to Requests@AcademicFOI.Com. We are happy to receive requests off the record or anonymously. They will be submitted under our name. Unless an appeal is required responses will usually be posted on our website within 30 days. We will reject frivolous requests and may broaden or alter requests if they are likely to identify any individual Research; Reports are compiled by sending the same FOI request to all 125 UK universities and tabulating the responses. These are a useful way of highlighting aspects of a university which differ from the majority or examining key features of the higher education system. If you have a suggestion for a topic that you would like us to research please e-mail details to Reports@Academic FOI.Com
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  1. Rosie Waterhouse, 'Universities must take action on Muslim extremism', Independent, 18 March 2010.
  2. City University London, Teaching About Terrorism Response to FOI 1, Scribd, Accessed 08-January-2011