British varsity apologises to student accused of being terrorist

London, Sep 24 (IANS) A university in Britain’s Staffordshire county has issued an apology after a student was accused of being a terrorist, the media reported on Thursday.

Mohammed Umar Farooq, a postgraduate student of counter-terrorism in Staffordshire University was falsely accused of being a terrorist after an official spotted him reading a textbook entitled ‘Terrorism Studies’ in the college library.

Farooq, who was enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s programme, told The Guardian that he was questioned about attitudes to homosexuality, the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda.

“I could not believe it. I was reading an academic textbook and minding my own business. At first I thought I’d just laugh it off as a joke,” said Farooq.

After three months of investigation into Farooq’s case, Staffordshire University admitted fault and apologised to the 33-year-old, saying it was responding to a “very broad duty … to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

“The implications if I did not challenge this could be serious for me. I could go on a police list, I could be investigated without my knowledge. This could happen to any young Muslim lad. I had to fight back,” Farooq said.

Noel Morrison, academic registrar and director of student experience at Staffordshire University, said he was “very sorry that a misjudged situation has impacted on this student”.

“We do, however, have the right policies and procedures in place and are confident that the situation was investigated and concluded appropriately.”

“We have apologised to Farooq and are in dialogue with him on how we can support him to continue his studies with us.”

The episode sheds light on how British universities are coping with the demands of the government’s new anti-extremism Prevent initiatives, which came into effect this week in response to concerns that campus hate speech was radicalising young people.

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