London Metropolitan University: Muslim students oppose alcohol ban
Muslim students at a university considering banning alcohol from parts of its campus have hit out at the plan — fearing they will be blamed for the move.
Students at London Metropolitan University said banning alcohol in the name of Muslims will cause tension on campus, divide the community, and could be exploited by far-Right groups such as the English Defence League.
Malcolm Gillies, Vice Chancellor of London Met, has said he might stop alcohol being served in parts of the university because some religious students view it as “immoral”.
But Syed Rumman, vice president of the Student Union, warned that any ban would be “catastrophic”.
Mr Rumman, who is a Muslim, said: “I do not drink, but it doesn’t mean that I will deprive another student from having alcohol.”
He added: “It is unethical, catastrophic and it will isolate Muslims further in society. This will go against the ethos of London Met where students are so diverse but also socialise together. Students who do drink will resent Muslims. It will divide the student body. We must not allow this to become a religious issue. Muslim students never asked for this ban.”
The debate began after a decision was made to close The Hub, a student bar on the university’s Aldgate campus.
Mr Rumman, originally from Bangladesh, is leading a campaign for it to be replaced with another licensed venue. He said: “If the university wants to ban alcohol it should be because of its own agenda, it should not include religions. If this is all about religious beliefs then why are we not banning pork from the canteen as well?
“Some Muslim students do drink, but none eat pork. And most of our international students come from India and do not eat beef.”
Claire Locke, Student Union president, said: “In all the time I have been here I have never heard of a student who wanted alcohol-free zones. It is completely ridiculous.
“Some of our Muslim students drink and some don’t. Because we are a metropolitan university we are tolerant of other people’s cultures.
“It is quite dangerous to be making these assumptions about students especially when Islamophobia is a big problem in the community. Groups like the EDL will jump on something like this and use it for their own ends.”
In an open letter, Ellie May, president of the university’s Unite Against Fascism Society, said: “We believe that the Vice Chancellor’s comments are insensitive and dangerous, provoking hostilities among students and the wider community.” Speaking to the Evening Standard, Professor Gillies said that about 30 per cent of London students do not drink alcohol. He added: “Nobody is talking about banning alcohol. We are talking about the ways we use space.
“We are interested in catering for all of our students. London Met talks about being a university for the whole community. We are not interested in catering for 60 per cent, we want to cater for 100 per cent so students feel as comfortable as possible.”