A University in the United Kingdom has apologized after a school official accused one of their students of being a terrorist.
ohammed Umar Farooq is a postgraduate student of counter-terrorism at Staffordshire University. While reading an academic text called Terrorism Studies in the school’s library, an administrator approached him and began asking interrogative questions. Although he initially believed he was being quizzed by a fellow student, he soon realized he was talking to the school’s complaints officer.
“I could not believe it,” Farooq told The Guardian. “I was reading an academic textbook and minding my own business. At first I thought I’d just laugh it off as a joke.”
The official persisted in asking questions about Farooq’s attitude toward homosexuality, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS—to which Farooq gave mostly academic replies, and stressed that he was opposed to extremist views. Regardless, the official reported Farooq to security guards, telling them the conversation had raised “too many red flags.”
The school has since apologized to Farooq, admitting the incident was the result of difficulties implementing new anti-radicalization laws. Despite the apology, Farooq chose not to continue the course at Staffordshire. He spoke up about his story in order to make it clear he is not involved in extremism in any way.
“The implications if I did not challenge this could be serious for me. I could go on a police list, I could be investigated without my knowledge. This could happen to any young Muslim lad. I had to fight back,” Farooq said.
Noel Morrison, director of student experience at Staffordshire University, told The Guardian: “We have apologised to Mr Farooq and are in dialogue with him on how we can support him to continue his studies with us. In light of recent legislation, we are ensuring all staff at the university have the right guidance and training.”
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