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Islamic society apologises over Woolwich video posting

A student Islamic society has apologised after a video was posted on its Facebook site claiming the killing of a soldier in Woolwich was a government hoax.

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A link to the YouTube video was uploaded to the site of the London Metropolitan University Islamic Society just hours after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks on 22 May.

The six-minute clip, which has been viewed by almost 300,000 people, features the now-infamous video of one of the suspects at the crime scene, with captions alleging a conspiracy and claiming the victim may not even have died.

It also shows a journalist describing the incident with a derogatory caption and claims the reporter’s account is “fabricated”.

London Met was quick to distance itself from the video. It issued a statement yesterday saying “the views expressed by individual students or student societies, including on social media, do not represent those of the university”.

A joint statement issued by London Metropolitan Students’ Union, and its Islamic Society, on 4 June condemned the appearance of the video, which was removed from the site last week.

The two groups said the “views represented on the YouTube videos referred to in the media do not represent the views of the Union or its Islamic Society”.

“The student union and Islamic Society understand that these videos were not produced, edited or posted to YouTube by members of the Islamic Society,” the statement adds.

“Links to these videos were, however, posted on the [Islamic Society’s] Facebook site by an individual user and we apologise for the offence this has caused.”

The union and its Islamic Society said it also “condemned the events in Woolwich in the strongest possible terms”.

It follows calls by Prime Minister David Cameron to look again at “the process of radicalisation on our campuses” as part of fresh action on British Islamic extremism.

Speaking after the meeting of a new government task force on tackling extremism, Mr Cameron said he wanted to “drain the swamp” that allows violent extremist views to take root in society, including tackling extremist groups based at universities.

Former students at several London universities have been convicted of terrorist plots, though a report by the Home Affairs Committee in February 2012 found the links between terrorism and universities had been overstated.

About 30 per cent of people convicted for al-Qaeda-associated terrorist offences in the UK between 1999 and 2009 had attended university or college, but the report said there was “seldom concrete evidence to confirm that this is where they were radicalised”.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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