Instead of annual discussions of boycotts, the UCU might be trying with equal zeal to implement various measures against Islamic extremism. As well as outlawing speakers with extreme views it might, rather like some governments in Europe, have ended up trying to pass motions to ban the niqab and even the hijab from campus. It would be easy to imagine that, faced with such a sustained focus on Islam, even Muslims who thought the veil unnecessary and appreciated that *some* women were being coerced into wearing it, might begin to feel beleaguered. Some might resign, others, worried about their jobs, wouldn’t but would find the atmosphere within the union unwelcome. On the activists’ list ‘Islamism’ would slip into ‘Islam’ and fair points about hate preachers would drift into discussions of (for example) Cambridge being under the thumb of terrorists. When raising their anxieties Muslim UCU members would get accused of being apologists for HuT, or of wanting to close down debates about human rights abuses.
University societies might begin to devote whole weeks to campaigning against Islamism. Clearly some of their targets would be valid ones – yet the relentless and exclusive focus on Islam(ism) as the problem would make Muslim students feel still more beleaguered. If they tried to point out a counterexample, or identify an exaggerated claim, they might get shouted down, or accused of being terrorists.
More resignations follow, But the UCU doesn’t seem that interested, and decides to arrange a conference on the subject of combatting extremism. One invited speaker has been accused of stirring up hatred against Muslims in his own country, of implying that bad things will happen to them if they don’t denounce extremism, of suggesting that should move to countries more compatible with their (supposed) views. Although he claims to have Muslim friends, he said ‘Muslims are savage’ in an online discussion. But the UCU still doesn’t seem that concerned.