[Ed. – Universities here are heading down the same path.]
Before traveling to Syria and becoming “Jihadi John,” the masked English-speaker who beheads Islamic State captives on video, Mohammed Emwazi graduated with a computer programming degree from the University of Westminster. I studied international relations there, and although I never met Emwazi, I wasn’t surprised he had attended my alma mater.
Despite boasting an inspiring academic staff and vibrant student life, the university has a dark side to its campus culture. The ideological climate feels conducive for radicalization; even though the university never intended this, it seems to be a place where extremism can fester. I don’t know if that climate is what turned Mohammed Emwazi into Jihadi John, but Westminster was probably a factor in his radicalization.
When I enrolled there in 2010, the year after Emwazi graduated, my classmates were from every corner of the world…. My first impression was that the university was an example of multiculturalism’s success.
But the longer I spent on campus, the more I noticed strange occurrences and remarks that seemed to fit with an Islamist ideology. Eventually, I realized, these ideas were deeply ingrained at Westminster, allowing individuals to feel comfortable advocating dangerous and discriminatory beliefs.