Moazzam Begg, the controversial activist who spent three years imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, will speak at an event hosted by UEA Student’s Union in February.

Titled: “Is it Ethical to Monitor Students?” the event will take place on 21st February 2017, at 6pm in UEA’s The Enterprise Centre and focus on discussion of the government’s PREVENT legislation.

The Facebook page for the event states that: “With the rise of Islamophobia and hate crime in the UK after Brexit and the Trump’s recent immigrant ban in the United States, we have organised a panel discussion ‘Is it Ethical to Monitor Students’ focusing on the PREVENT legislation that has been condemned for inciting racial profiling on campus.

“We want to encourage an academic discussion, as well as raise awareness of PREVENT, which is why we have invited a variety of speakers from all kinds of backgrounds.”

The speakers invited include Moazzam Begg (Director of CAGE and illegally detained in Guantanamo Bay for nearly 3 years) Malia Bouattia (NUS President), Muqaddam Malik (President for Model UN Society) and David Nowell Smith (UEA Lecturer).

On January 6th 2016 the Telegraph reported that six British universities were facing an inquiry after CAGE “used meetings on campus to encourage the “sabotage” of the government’s official anti-extremism programme.’”

Begg is reported to have told students that “any right-minded person” would oppose the Prevent strategy, likening it to the methods of the Stasi secret police in the former East Germany. He also told audiences they should have sympathy for jihadists killed fighting with Al Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

The SU is part of the NUS ‘Students Not Suspects’ campaign against the government’s legislation ‘PREVENT’ which enforces the monitoring of students through Universities and healthcare professionals. Students passed of policy in January 2015 ’No to Islamophobia on our Campus’ which requires the SUBas an organisation to “to oppose any PVE initiatives, including the Government led initiatives of ‘PREVENT’ and ‘Channel’ on our campus.”

Commenting on the decision to invite Begg to speak, Chair of the SU Trustee Board Theo Antoniou-Phillips said:

“The SU is committed to freedom of speech but also has a responsibility to manage risk and harm- so the SU policy on speakers requires that where a speaker has the potential to cause risk, we conduct a short investigation and make recommendations on managing that risk. As part of this process it has been noted that Begg has visited other universities recently including York, Brunel, Warwick, Exeter and Leeds where control measures were put in place and no serious issues were experienced. As a result we have resolved that the event should go ahead on the basis that some steps are followed to ensure safety.”

Commenting on the invite SU Welfare Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo said:

“With the rise of Islamophobia and hate crime in the UK after Brexit and the Trump’s recent immigrant ban in the United States, we have organised a panel discussion ‘Is it ethical to monitor students’ on the 21st February focusing on the PREVENT legislation that has been condemned for inciting racial profiling on campus.

“Our Students’ Union is part of the NUS ‘Students Not Suspects’ campaign against the government’s legislation ‘PREVENT’ which enforces the monitoring of students through Universities and health care professionals. Our students passed of policy in January 2015 ’No to Islamophobia on our Campus’ which requires us as an organisation to ‘To oppose any PVE initiatives, including the Government led initiatives of ‘PREVENT’ and ‘Channel’ on our campus’.

“We want to encourage an academic discussion on the ethics on monitoring students, as well as raise awareness of PREVENT, which is why we have invited a variety of speakers from all kinds of backgrounds including Begg, who can share his experiences of Islamophobia, monitoring and illegal detainment in Guantananmo Bay.”

The event page can be found here.