King’s College London has cancelled a lecture featuring Hamas’ “special envoy to the UK” after fears that it would glorify a holocaust denier. The event organised by Middle East Monitor (MEMO), a Hamas-friendly publication, would have featured speaker Azzam Tamimi talking about Abdelwahab Elmessiri, an Egytian Hoolocaust denier, according to news site JNS.org.
Elmessiri, who died in 2008, led an Egytian opposition movement called Kefaya and wrote in his book “Zionism, Nazism and the Holocaust” that far fewer than six million Jews died in the Holocaust. He wrote: “The Nazis desperately needed workers, why would the war machine waste its time destroying millions instead of using them as slave labourers?”
The event’s speaker, Tamimi, is former director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, he told the BBC that he would become suicide bomber in the “noble cause” for Palestine if he “had the opportunity”. He has also spoken in support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Members of the college’s Israel Society complained about the event in a letter saying that holding the lecture would “damage the College’s reputation and international standing, as well as giving succour to hard-line fanatics who desperately want to see nothing short of the destruction of the state of Israel.”
They added: “We feel that, whilst the College has a duty to uphold free speech, this constitutes incitement, and thus a vitiation of the well-being of our Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students at King’s. We urge you to refuse to host this lecture.”
Despite King’s College cancelling the lecture, it will still go ahead at a different University of London location.
Jonathan Hunter, UK campus coordinator for StandWithUs, a pro-Israel group, said: “There is no defence for hosting an event glorifying a well-known Holocaust denier, and it is extremely troubling that the University of London would welcome such a person.”
MEMO has previously published student Hilary Aked, who has set up an organisation that confronts those that seek to root out extremism on campuses.