- Moazzam Begg took part in speaking event at the University of Exeter
- He was asked to respond to colleague Asim Qureshi's stoning comments
- Previously Qureshi refused to condemn the practice on adulterous women
- Begg was evasive and said he had 'never heard' of a British stoning victim
An agitator from the organisation that backed Jihadi John has failed to condemn the stoning of women during a controversial lecture at an elite university.
Moazzam Begg, outreach director for CAGE, spoke at the University of Exeter as part a National Union of Students campaign to sabotage government counter-terrorism measures.
It is just the latest in a long line of appearances on campuses by the group, which recently provoked horror after calling the Islamic State killer a 'beautiful young man'.
Moazzam Begg, pictured, Outreach director for CAGE, made the comments during an Exeter University event
They are working with members of the NUS to urge a boycott of the Prevent scheme, which requires academics to look out for signs of radicalism.
Yesterday, critics voiced their disquiet that Mr Begg was given an unchallenged platform to preach his views to more than 750 students at Exeter.
A video posted online shows he repeatedly refused to denounce the punishment of stoning for adulteresses when challenged by a student.
Anthony Glees, a terror expert at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘It's sickening that Exeter University has allowed Moazzam Begg onto to its campus to incite students to oppose Prevent.
‘It is high time universities stopped the NUS and Begg from exploiting our tradition of lawful free speech and misleading students about how best to keep Britain safe from Islamist extremists.
‘Opening the door to Begg will close the minds of our students making Britain less safe and less free.’
Mr Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, spoke last Wednesday at the ‘Students Not Suspects’ event, organised by the university Socialist, Feminist and Islamic Societies in partnership with Friends of Palestine.
Also on the four-seat panel was Shelly Asquith, the NUS’s vice-president for welfare, who is a key anti-Prevent campaigner and Jeremy Corbyn activist.
One student questioned Mr Begg over an interview he gave to Julian Assange alongside CAGE research director Asim Qureshi.
In the interview, Mr Qureshi stated that, if all conditions were met, a women could be stoned to death for adultery.
At first, Mr Begg dismissed the question as a ‘red herring’ and denied Qureshi had supported stoning adulteresses.
But after more prompting, he said: ‘The reason why I'm here is because of what was done to me.
‘I'm here because of Guantanamo.
‘I'm here because of terrorism and the effects of anti-terror legislation.
‘I’m terms of asking Qureshi’s personal views and so forth you can ask him whenever you get the chance to speak to him.
‘As far as I’m concerned, I’m very clear. I don't know anyone who's been stoned to death in the UK, I don't know anyone who's been tried as adulterers in the UK, I don't know anybody who's applying those rules in the UK, and that's what I’m concerned with.'
Gray Sergeant, of Student Rights, a project run by the Henry Jackson Society think tank, was present at the event and said CAGE was an inappropriate group to invite onto campus.
He said: ‘The NUS “Students Not Suspects” tour has given CAGE an unchallenged platform at universities across the UK despite the group’s history of defending convicted terrorists.
Begg, pictured, was challenged to answer colleague Asim Qureshi's previous comments on stoning but instead gave evasive answers and said he had never heard of someone being stoned in the UK
‘Campuses should be places for robust debate, not for misinformation to be spread without opposition.’
An NUS spokesman said the event was not organised by the NUS and that ‘individual officers’ were attending in a personal capacity.
They added: ‘NUS does not work with CAGE. Individuals associated with CAGE have made comments which contradict NUS’ policies, on anti-Semitism and violence against women.’
Exeter student union vice-president of welfare and diversity, Naomi Armstrong, said CAGE were ‘misguided’ and that the union had played ‘no part’ in inviting them.
However, she said: ‘We have never blocked any event from external speakers in over ten years and free speech and debate are important values to us, even if we don't agree with what people themselves say.’
A University spokesman said: ‘At Exeter we are working hard to comply with the expectations of the statutory Prevent duty within the context of our particular environmental risks, while also rigorously defending academic freedom and the right of students and staff to freedom of speech and other legislation such at the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act.
We understand that speakers and events play an integral role in the learning environment and are a valuable contribution to the student experience.
‘We will protect the right to debate openly and freely and will always seek to allow events to go ahead providing they are within the law.’
Responding to the criticism about his appearance at Exeter, Moazzam Begg said yesterday in a statement: ‘I was not asked to condemn stoning (of men or women) - the recording clearly shows this.
‘I was asked to disassociate with the view of my colleague Asim Qureshi regarding his views of someone else and, their view of his view on stoning.
‘This is bizarre because Mr. Qureshi has said: "...from an evidentiary perspective, it [adultery] is almost impossible to establish...the fact that you even have a punishment [stoning of adulterers] taking place means that the rule of law is being abused at some point because its impossible to establish that evidentiary standard."
‘This is a concerted attempt once again to smear those brave voices who challenge the growth of the surveillance State and the government attack on dissent.
‘CAGE is proud of its role in this growing global movement that crosses boundaries that have often been used to divide by the same security State.’