Jihadi John and the University of Westminster – A case of false correlation

Over the past month or so, international media outlets have been saturated with images of the masked “Jihadi John” after the surfacing of disturbing execution videos.


Since the unveiling of this notorious Islamic extremist as “Mohammed Emwazi”, journalists have ravenously pursued any scratch of information relating to Emwazi’s life prior to joining ISIS; from previous employment in IT, to videos of a 15 year old Emwazi playing football.


All major institutions that were involved with Emwazi at one point or another have therefore been scrutinised and thoroughly investigated. In particular the University of Westminster, the institution at which I am currently studying, and which Hallbookers was conceived, has been labelled as an “Extremist Breeding Ground” and a “Hotbed for Fanaticism”.


Although University of Westminster may previously have been linked to other unscrupulous groups, from an average student’s perspective, it seems rather farfetched and embellished that my university had a major part to play, as the media claims.


I personally, and none of my Muslim or Non-Muslim colleagues have ever experienced or displayed any signs of extremism, indoctrination or anything generally of that nature. The major issue which I and my colleagues now face as a community is the stigmata attached to the title of “A University of Westminster Graduate” which will be known as “The Same University Jihadi John attended”. This brand which will be attached to the next batch of graduates from Westminster (which includes me) may now have subconscious implications for Muslim and non-white grads in particular when applying for their jobs, simply due to the creation of “news worthy headlines”. All academic institutions within the UK pride themselves on a policy of free speech and expression without harming others, and simply because this is the case, this doesn’t mean that an institution such as Westminster “allowed” for extremism to be bred.


University of Westminster has numerous faults, as does any other academic institution, but it is unfounded, sensationalist storytelling to claim that this University had any impact on Emwazi’s later decisions. 


By Jake Li

Student at University of Westminster and employee at Hallbookers.co.uk