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Raheem Kassam (born 1 August 1986) is an English political campaigner and writer particularly known as an opponent of Islamic extremism in University Student Unions.

Early life

Raheem was born and bought up in an Indian Muslim family and grew up in West London. His parents are immigrants from Tanzania. Mother is a secretary, father set up a fast food restaurant and later became a hotel manager. He attended the University of Westminster, where he studied politics.[1] However, despite his background, Raheem is an atheist, stating that Christopher Hitchens rejection of religious faith ("religions are versions of the same untruth") inspired him.[2]

Conservative Party

Kassam was a member of the Conservative Party from 2008–2009 and served on the National Executive of Conservative Future in 2009, with responsibility for the 'Conservative Future TV' YouTube Channel.

Kassam served as the director of the campaign to elect Michelle Donelan in Wentworth and Dearne during the General Election in 2010. The day after the 2011 Conservative Party Conference 2011, the London Evening Standard included Kassam among a group of 'Rainbow Tories' as part of the "next Tory generation".[1]

TaxPayers' Alliance

Kassam worked briefly for the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA), a libertarian, low-tax pressure group, over the summer of 2010, on the 'Hate Education' campaign[3] which scrutinized foreign aid to the Palestinian territories. Kassam subsequently co-authored a piece in the Wall Street Journal Europe on this issue with the Director of Research at the TPA, Matthew Sinclair. Kassam was also quoted as a 'UK Tea Party organiser' during this period, in the Daily Telegraph.[4]

Student Rights

Originating as a Henry Jackson Society programme, the 'Student Rights' project, established in 2009,[5] seeks to "tackle extremism on campuses" and "support equality, democracy and freedom".[6] According to Kassam there is insufficient oversight in the booking of speakers on campuses and argues in favour of "balancing the panels in debates or moving events off campus, so they are not using taxpayer resources. That's much better than outright banning."[5]

Kassam has been quoted as the Director of Student Rights across the national news media, notably discussing Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab [7] and the London School of Economics' ties to the Gaddafi regime of Libya in 2011.[8][9]

Kassam has been an outspoken critic of Universities UK on the issue of extremism on campuses, noting their guidance of 2011 left universities with "arms open to Islamists, racists and fascists".[10]

In June 2011, in conjunction with Robert Halfon MP, Student Rights produced a report illustrating the links between the Saudi Arabian Royal Family and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of London University.[11][12] The report was distributed to Members of the UK Parliament and received media coverage in The Jewish Chronicle and Jerusalem Post.[13]

The report highlighted Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a man criticised by over 2,500 Muslim scholars, who serves on the editorial board of the Saudi-funded Journal of Qur'anic Studies of the Centre for Islamic Studies at SOAS,[14] and criticised the university for accepting £755,000 from the Saudi Royal Family and its affiliates. The report also noted the hypocrisy of universities which pride themselves on human rights standpoints and equality legislation being allied to regimes that are contrary to this. The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Kingdom responded to the report in an open letter to Members of Parliament, stating "If Saudi money is questionable, then following a change in British law we will willingly abide by this and change our policy accordingly."[15]

Kassam is the Director of Marketing at the Henry Jackson Society,[16]

Resignation of Sir Howard Davies

Kassam's Student Rights organisation initially reported on the incident, bringing the story to the national and international media's attention , as reflected by the various interviews.[17][18][19] Kassam and Student Rights have been credited by news outlets including the Evening Standard[20] for having applied direct pressure and therefore being integral in the resignation of the director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies on 4 March 2011, after mounting pressure relating to the LSE's links with Gaddafi.

Resignation of Baroness Jenny Tonge

On February 28th 2012, the Member of the British House of Lords, Jenny Tonge, Baroness Tonge resigned the Liberal Democrat whip after her comments that 'Israel will not be around forever' were highlighted by Kassam's Student Rights organisation.[21] Student Rights role was corroborated by Guardian journalist Nicholas Watt who tweeted, "@GuidoFawkes points out that Lady Tonge Israel clip came from @Student_Rights".[22]

The Commentator

Kassam is currently the Executive Editor[23] of The Commentator website. Its emergence was welcomed by Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP, on his Telegraph blog in June 2011.[24]

Jon Huntsman for President

In July 2011, Kassam went to work for the Jon Huntsman For President campaign based in Orlando, Florida. Kassam had written about his admiration for Huntsman previously.[25]

The Bow Group

In October 2011, The Bow Group held its annual elections which resulted in a takeover by "Bow Forward", a political slate headed by Ben Harris-Quinney and Raheem Kassam.[26][27] Though Kassam was not eligible to stand for a position at the election, he was unanimously co-opted onto Bow Group Council and currently serves as Communications Director.[28]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rainbow Tories: The geek, the fundraiser and the Tanzanian immigrant's son:Politics. Thisislondon.co.uk (2011-10-06). Retrieved on 2011-05-23.
  2. Raheem Kassam "Thank you, Mr. Hitchens", The Commentator, 25 May 2012
  3. Monday 07 June 2010 (2010-06-07). So we gave £19m to the Palestinian territories – but where does it go? " : Campaign : The TaxPayers' Alliance. Taxpayersalliance.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  4. Swaine, Jon (2010-09-18). "British Tea Party launched by Conservative activists to challenge Coalition". London: Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/8009839/British-Tea-Party-launched-by-Conservative-activists-to-challenge-Coalition.html. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Reisz, Matthew (2011-01-06). Contravene or intervene?. Times Higher Education. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  6. About. Student Rights. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  7. http://www.studentrights.org.uk/cms/rc1/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Raheem-on-BBC-Radio-London-Oct-2010-UCL-Report.mp3
  8. Ian Cobain, Amelia Hill, Kartik Mehta (21 February 2011). "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: LSE-educated man the west can no longer deal with : World news". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/saif-al-islam-gaddafi. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  9. Dobkin, Ariel (2011-03-09). Dollars From a Dictator. The Diplomacist. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  10. University report excuses hate speech : The Jewish Chronicle. Thejc.com (2011-02-24). Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  11. http://www.studentrights.org.uk/cms/rc1/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Saudi-SOAS-Briefing.pdf
  12. EXCLUSIVE: SOAS taught Gaddafi son and hosts al-Qaradawi on editorial board : The Jewish Chronicle. Thejc.com (2011-06-22). Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  13. Benziman, Uzi (2011-06-19). ‘University of London receives Saudi fun... JPost - National News. Jpost.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  14. Journal of Qur'anic Studies, Edinburgh University Press
  15. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia London. Portal.mofa.gov.sa (2011-06-17). Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  16. "Professional Staff: Raheem Kassam", Henry Jackson Society
  17. Cobain, Ian; Hill, Amelia (21 February 2011). "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: LSE-educated man the west can no longer deal with". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/saif-al-islam-gaddafi?INTCMP=SRCH. 
  18. http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/Politics/article565598.ece
  19. http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=209449
  20. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/politics/article-23995136-rainbow-tories-the-geek-the-fundraiser-and-the-tanzanian-immigrants-son.do
  21. http://www.studentrights.org.uk/article/1880/dangerous_delusional_speakers_descend_onto_london_campus_update_baroness_tonge_resigns_from_lib_dems_
  22. https://twitter.com/#!/nicholaswatt/status/174917052337897472
  23. The Commentator. The Commentator. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  24. Daniel Hannan "The proliferation of media is the best guarantor of accuracy", Telegraph (blog), 11 June 2011
  25. Raheem Kassam, Executive Editor (2011-07-14). The Hunt for Victory. The Commentator. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  26. http://www.londonspinonline.com/2011/10/bow-selecta.html
  27. http://bowforward.com/
  28. http://www.bowgroup.org/content/bow-group-council

External links




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