Muslim Student Groups Protesting Against Prospective Alcohol Ban at London Metropolitan University

30 Apr 2012

London Metropolitan University is one of the most Muslim populated universities in Britain.  Around 20 per cent of the students of the university are Muslims, thus it has an important place in debates surrounding British Muslims. The university attracted considerable public attention in 2006 when the police raided portable buildings used by the Islamic Society in search of terrorist activities.

Last week, the university was again in the headlines when Muslim students of the university protested the university’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol from parts of their campus. LMU Islamic Society and Shia Muslim Society issued a joint statement to claim that the decision of the university is “divisive”, “irresponsible” and based on a “gross generalisation” as it would lead other students to blame Muslims for the decision.

Islam has made London a more conservative place than it was 50 years ago

One of the most common mistakes people make about cultural and politics is suggesting that history is inevitably heading in one direction. We hear it most commonly in the argument made that “we can’t turn the clock back” to the 1950s, as if anyone is planning to ban garlic bread or continental lager. (I don’t see why achieving 1950s levels of crime would be either undesirable or impossible).

History does not work like that, and in a strange way London today is even more conservative than it was in the 1950s – thanks to liberals.

This week London Metropolitan University’s vice-chancellor suggested that parts of the campus be made alcohol-free because some Muslim students believe it is “evil” and “immoral”.

This paper reports:

Prof Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan University said he wants to create alcohol free areas on campus out of “cultural sensitivity”. About a fifth of students at the university come from Muslim families – many of them young women from traditional homes. For many of them, the drinking culture among students marred rather than heightened their student experience, he said.

In principle there’s nothing wrong with this. If one university wants to make itself more attractive to teetotal students, then heavy-drinking students (ie 99 per cent of them) can go to the many colleges where cheap beer flows abundantly. That’s the free market. Muslims aside, many people would prefer a less boozy environment. But I can’t help but feel that this new puritanism is not what the young people who once shouted “disembowel Enoch Powell” in opposition to immigration restrictions had in mind.