LONDON (AFP) -Lecturers and staff at British universities will be asked to spy on “Asian-looking” and Muslim students they suspect of supporting terrorist acts and involvement in Islamic extremism, The Guardian reported.
Citing a document drawn up by the British education ministry, the newspaper said universities had been warned of talent-spotting by terrorists on campuses across the country, and of students being “groomed” for extremism.
The 18-page document, which also acknowledges “concerns about police targeting certain sections of the student population (eg Muslims)”, has apparently been sent to official bodies for consultation within the last month.
It identifies Muslim students from “segregated” backgrounds as more likely to support extremist stances than their counterparts who are “integrated into wider society”.
The Guardian also said that the document encourages universities to proactively report students to the special branches of local police forces that deal with matters to do with national security.
The report also suggests universities make checks on external speakers invited to give lectures by their student Islamic societies, which it says can often be “more radical speakers or preachers”.
Students indicated strong opposition to the apparent measures, with Gemma Tumelty, the president of the National Union of Students, being quoted as saying: “They are going to treat everyone Muslim with suspicion on the basis of their faith. It’s bearing on the side of McCarthyism,” the 1950s-era Communist witch hunts by US Congressmen.
The report comes on the same day as the Daily Mirror tabloid reported Britain will unveil plans for a map of Islamic extremist “hotspots” in an effort to focus attention on them so they can be broken up.
The campaign will be announced by Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly in central London in a meeting with police chiefs and local city council heads, the newspaper reported, without citing its sources.
Kelly will ask the police and council heads to identify the universities, schools and mosques where young Muslims are provided with extremist views.
“The new extremism we are facing is the single biggest security issue facing local communities,” Kelly will say, the tabloid reported.
“The world has changed since September 11 (2001) and 7/7 (the July 7, 2005 attacks on London’s transport network). The government has to change and respond to that and we appeal to local authorities to do the same.”
“We need to work closer together in partnership with the police and local communities to face down this threat.”