Hilary Aked on Huffington Post looks at The Times front page story earlier this week based on a report about ‘radical’ speakers on university campuses released by Student Rights.
Aked questions the methodology employed by co-authors, Raheem Kassam and Rupert Sutton, and the patent attempt to misrepresent facts by starting with a biased sample and inferring from it conclusive results.
Aked draws attention to the wider media coverage the report received, little of it interested in taking a closer look at the methodology and accuracy of the claims contained therein. Reviewing the pedigree from which Student Rights hails and its biased interventions to date, Aked notes:
“The group's previous dubious activities include having fed to the BBC false allegations about anti-Semitism at a pro-Palestinian event at SOAS, University of London. Kassam has even been accused of writing his own Wikipedia page - since deleted. And while his group feeds the press stories about speakers with 'a history of extreme or intolerant views', it is interesting to note that Kassam himself is associated with the hard right Young Britons' Foundation and also tried to instigate a 'British tea party' movement. As executive editor of The Commentator website, he has published articles like this one which unambiguously denigrates Muslims. And the neoconservative think tank Henry Jackson Society, which established Student Rights (and provides at least some if not all of the funds for the group - we don't know as it is not transparent about its donors), has been criticised for its anti-Muslim agenda by one of its own former staff members. We must ask the question who is really spreading hate and intolerance here?
“Student Rights is seeking to police, not 'protect' students and its activities should be seen as part of the 'Cold War on British Muslims'. Its activities feed into an increasingly entrenched discourse of Islamophobia endorsed by much of the government and mainstream media. Universities should be wary of its lobbying efforts, the media should interrogate its misleading research and FOSIS should be commended for standing up to its bullying.”