University of Birmingham Chooses To Ignore Racist Activities On Campus

Last weekend as reported in both the ITV and the Birmingham Mail Islamophobic and anti-semetic racist graffiti were found inside the University of Birmingham campus. Not only was the University of Birmingham targeted, racist thugs also spray painted Islamophobic graffiti at Jahalabad mosque in the student hub of Selly Oak.

Post-Charlie Hebdo, there has been an increase wave of vile Islamophobia that has put extra strain on the an already beleaguered Muslim community. This Islamophobia is seen everywhere, including in the classroom. There has been a significant rise in anti-Muslim racism against British Muslim school children as reported in the Independent:

“Teachers unions and anti-racism groups […] have recorded an increase in Islamophobic incidents in schools with the 400,000 Muslim pupils in British schools increasingly likely to be taunted as “terrorists”, “paedophiles” or “immigrants”. The NASUWT, the teaching union, said the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment is causing “uncertainty and fear” in schools.”

This vile and insidious anti-Muslim racism is also present and growing within colleges and universities. Last month, Birkbeck College buckled under pressure from PREVENT and closed down a planned conference by the Islamic Human Rights Commission to tackle the rise in Islamophobia in Britain. In December 2013, University of Bath doctoral research, Hilary Aked uncovered how the right-wing think tank, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) had funded the Islamophobic Student Rights group to create divisive and sensational pieces about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism on British university campuses. Adding to this, Home Secretary, Theresa May stated that schools and universities would be required to have anti-extremist policies in place to guard against the threat of radicalization. Naturally this policy would not only limit or eradicate the activism that many #FreeEducation and anti-privitization student activists are already engaged in, but there is justifiable fear that it would also target with a vengeance Black, POC, and specifically Muslim student activists.

With this in mind, Jewish and Muslim students alike were hoping for a robust statement from the University of Birmingham strongly condemning the racist incidents of last week. Instead, this is statement that came from the University of Birmingham: Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 23.46.18

Yes folks, the University of Birmingham chose to completely ignore the racist events that transpired on their campus by doing some old fashion pro-university marketing encouraging students and alumni to “Cheer us up by sending us your great photos of life at UoB!”

It is not surprising that student activists are incensed and angry about the University of Birmingham’s whitewashing of the racist graffiti incident. NCAFC member and University of Birmingham student, Helena Hinkle commented on the University of Birmingham Facebook page, “i can’t believe you wouldn’t mention the fascist, racism, islamophobic and anti-semetic graffiti, not just random graffiti, was on our campus. SHAME ON YOU. how dare you use this as a neo-liberal marketing ploy. SCUM.”

April Reilly, another University of Birmingham student, active within the Justice4Sanaz campaign, BEMA and Students for Justice in Palestine commented:

“im not proud to be a “member” of this university. i think its shit. heaven forbid a bunch of students graffiti campus with OCCUPY STRIKE RESIST, but ISLAM MUST DIE and a nazi swastika is a golden opportunity boast how “inclusive”, “diverse”, “tolerant” and “multicultural” it is, while ignoring fascist activities and racism on campus. not to mention that anti-muslim state surveillance in the form of “prevent” goes very nicely with far-right politics. uni of bham is not a bastion of enlightenment and progress, whatever the fuck they say in their prospectus. whether i graduate with a mere “pass” or a 1st i decided i dont think i care anymore. i used to be that gal that worried about grades all the time, but truly, its just a pile of bollocks. and i wish i knew that when i was 16. 

university experience seems to be, in my personal experience, sold to me as a working class kid, to be a “step up” in the world, and a chance to earn more money. what they didnt wanna tell you about was what an elitist community it is i.e. a cesspool of tories, yuppies and posh kids with more privileges than sense. and in the end, it will marginalise ya, and if youre not so lucky, give you a lot of mental and emotional anguish. im gonna end up signing on afterwards, anyway. i dont want to come across as some “ungrateful bitch” who is completely unaware of how lucky she is to be here. my mama and papa never had this opportunity at all. but that doesnt mean i should be complacent about the shitty way things are. hmpf.”

However, Muslim, leftists and students of color are organizing on the University of Birmingham campus to make it known that racism has no place in higher education. There will be a demo on the Tuesday 27th January outside the University of Birmingham library to protest both the racist graffiti incident that took place on campus and also the university’s non response to the hateful events of last weekend and the continued institutional racism that marginalizes Muslims and people of color on campus daily.

Justice4Sanaz stands in solidarity with this demonstration and with activists on the University of Birmingham campus who fight against racism, xenophobia, queerphobia and ableism. #NoToFascism and no to universities who disavow and ignore hate crimes and racism on campus!


About justice4sanaz

For 3 years, Sanaz Raji, a non-EU international student from the United States, has waged a fearless and brave fight against institutional aggression, bullying, and racism from the School of Media and Communication (formerly the Institution of Communications Studies) University of Leeds. The School of Media and Communication took away Sanaz's scholarship in August 2011, only 2 weeks before the start of her third year into her PhD studies. The School of Media and Communication breached their own procedures and rules concerning evaluating student progress. By taking away Sanaz's scholarship, the School of Media and Communication prevented her from continuing her studies in addition to having a decent standard of living with food and shelter that all students expect as a human right. In waging her battle for equal rights for non-EU international students, Sanaz was evicted from her university accommodation in May 2014, threatened with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) and now fighting against deportation. All non-EU international students should have the right to challenge their universities for their failings without the threat of harassment or deportation. Justice4Sanaz is a movement to redress the failure of the student movement to discuss the myriad of ways that non-EU students, especially those who are people of color, are silenced, bullied and threatened within the neoliberal British university system.
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One Response to University of Birmingham Chooses To Ignore Racist Activities On Campus

  1. Pingback: The Disavowal Of Racism Within The Ivory Towers: University of Birmingham And The AoIR List Serve | justice4sanaz

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