Journalist Nafeez Ahmed has penned two articles in The Guardian recently which put Student Rights and its parent organisation, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think tank, in context.
The first, ‘What climate denial, oil addiction and xenophobia have in common: Neocons‘ (29 April), points out that director Raheem Kassam also works for the right win Breitbart News and has published articles there displaying sympathy for UKIP.
He also mentions the Real Student Rights campaign which students have rallied behind to discredit Kassam’s group. Ahmed writes:
While running pro-Ukip spin in the name of journalism, Kassam is also long-time director of ‘Student Rights,’ which describes itself as an “independent” anti-extremism “campus monitoring group,” despite actually being a HJS-funded project sharing the same office.
Student Rights has come under fire recently from motions passed by multiple Student Unions at London universities for “disproportionately and unfairly targeting Muslim students, contributing to their marginalisation and ostracisation, damaging campus cohesion and feeding into a growing trend of Islamophobic discourse in wider society.”
The motions note that: “Student Rights’ work and reporting has been used by far-right groups to target a Muslim-student event which led to reported threats of violence and the event subsequently having to be cancelled by the university.”
In a second piece focusing on the HJS, ‘Think tank behind Tory foreign policy promotes Arab world fossil fuel hegemony‘ (7 May), Ahmed discusses the neoconservative connections on its board and draws attention to its ‘political risk consultancy’ operation called Strategic Analysis.
He ties together the neocons’ interest in corporate control of Middle Eastern oil and gas supplies with their hawkish foreign policy attitudes. He also describes Student Rights as
Kassam’s personal passion for climate skepticism was previously also exposed by Spinwatch.
Interestingly, the website of Student Rights has been offline for several days, for unknown reasons. Though the group was given something of a stay of execution when at the NUS national conference in April there was not enough time to hear the motion due to be proposed (and likely to be passed) against it, the national executive committee (NEC) will still vote on the motion when they next meet.
Could it be that in anticipation of being officially condemned by the national student body, the ironically named group has decided to throw in the towel?