There may be trouble ahead for Student Rights, the self-appointed body which claims to be “tackling extremism on campus”, but which in reality is going after just one target, and that is anything connected with followers of The Prophet. Any and every opportunity is taken to tap into fear of Muslims and anything Islamic (the banner photos on the group’s website show this rather well).
One convocation of students, graduates, university employees and others has decided to organise and oppose what is just another Astroturf lobby group, and a project of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS): this gathering has called itself “Students for Real Student Rights”. It has now been more widely publicised thanks to a feature in Ceasefire Magazine by Hilary Aked.
What this new grouping, and Ms Aked, may find useful is the recent shift in dynamic at the HJS, together with the light that Zelo Street has previously shone upon those behind Student Rights, and especially one Raheem “Call me Ray” Kassam, whose bio claims that he is “from a Muslim family”, but who long ago ceased any pretence of adhering to the smallest part of the Qur’an.
Kassam also recently had a serious falling out with the HJS’ humourless Director of International Affairs Robin Shepherd, who had previously founded The Commentator group blog. Kassam departed The Commentator and founded Trending Central, another repository of right-wing frothing and ranting, taking many of his former berth’s contributors with him.
The poor state of relations between Kassam and Shepherd was laid bare recently when someone – not Kassam – wound up Shepherd in a Commentator comment thread and caused him to lose it very publicly. The thread was later deleted, but as Zelo Street regulars will have observed, it has been preserved for posterity. It will surprise nobody that lawyers are rumoured to be involved.
All of which makes one wonder just how secure Kassam’s position at Student Rights really is right now, especially if the HJS is putting funds into it. One thing is for sure, though, and that is Kassam’s connection with The Usual Suspects in the right-leaning blogosphere, numbering the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog among his drinking buddies.
So the opposition to Student Rights has potentially good and bad news: if the Kassam – Shepherd split has extended to the group, that will reduce its effectiveness, but if not, “Call me Ray” has the kind of connections that will ensure a hostile reception, coupled with an expertise in smearing opponents that has been honed over some years, and is utterly without principle.
So now they know who they’re dealing with. You have been suitably warned.