- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Staffordshire University in England is apologizing after it investigated for three months a Muslim postgraduate student of counter-terrorism after he was seen reading a textbook titled “Terrorism Studies” in the campus library.

Mohammed Umar Farooq, who was enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s program, told the Guardian that an official approached him in the library and grilled him about his views on homosexuality, the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

“I could not believe it. I was reading an academic textbook and minding my own business. At first I thought I’d just laugh it off as a joke,” Mr. Farooq said.

He said his answers that day were mostly academic, but the conversation was still reported by the official to security guards.

After three months of investigation, Staffordshire University admitted fault and apologized to Mr. Farooq, saying it was responding to a “very broad duty … to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism,” the Guardian reported.

The university, based in Stoke-on-Trent, admitted that the probe exposed the difficulties in implementing the government’s new anti-radicalization Prevent policies.

Mr. Farooq said he had been “looking over his shoulder” ever since the incident in March. He has since dropped out of the course and hired a lawyer.

“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,” he said.

Noel Morrison, academic registrar and director of student experience at Staffordshire University, told the Guardian that he was “very sorry that a misjudged situation has impacted on this student.

“We do, however, have the right policies and procedures in place and are confident that the situation was investigated and concluded appropriately.”

“We have apologized 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,” Mr. Morrison said.

News of the incident comes one week after a 14-year-old Muslim boy, Ahmed Mohamed, made international headlines after he was arrested and suspended from his Texas school for bringing a homemade clock to class that was mistaken for a bomb. 

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