Muslim Brotherhood disruption at SOAS
Muslim Brotherhood disruption at SOASScreenshot: YouTube

A leading British university has been forced to review its security procedures after a lecture on Middle East affairs was stormed by dozens of Islamist extremists.

Roughly 30 Muslim Brotherhood supporters disrupted a lecture at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) by Egyptian actor Mohamed El-Nabawy, organized by the university's Palestine Society.

Activists waved pro-Muslim Brotherhood banners and flags, shouted "go home!" and chanted Arabic slogans against the military-backed government in Cairo. As the crowd surged forward towards him and threatened to turn violent, El-Nabawy had to be quickly spirited away by security (video below).

The Egyptian actor was apparently targeted for his links to the Tamarod, or "Rebel", activist movement, which played a key role in orchestrating the mass protests which helped oust Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. 

The British Evening Standard quoted a spokeswoman for SOAS as condemning the disruption.

"SOAS, University of London has a long tradition of welcoming high-profile speakers from all over the world, from every part of the political, social and religious spectrum," she said.

"SOAS is committed to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas through being a leading institute for debate. This can only be conducted effectively in an atmosphere of open enquiry, mutual tolerance and intellectual freedom."

The university's Palestine Society also issued a reaction, with a spokeswoman saying that the society was committed to "crafting events that bring in differing views," in "pursuit of freedom of speech and expression".

But pro-Israel groups have mocked the university and its Palestine Society for what they say is an astonishing display of hypocrisy.

“How ironic that an event hosted by the Palestine Society at SOAS should experience the kind of physical disruption and intimidation that has become almost de rigueur for Israeli speakers in this country," said Zionist Federation Chairman Paul Charney.

"Pro-Palestinian societies have been at the forefront of attempts to shut down dialogue and debate when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and SOAS in particular has a reputation as a hotbed of anti-Zionist activity," he noted.

London has famously been dubbed the "hub of hubs" of anti-Israel extremism and campaigns to "delegitimize" the State of Israel, with Israeli institutions and individuals often targeted by boycott campaigners. Israel activists often complain of being silenced by extremists who regularly heckle and disrupt pro-Israel events.

Such activities are not confined to university campuses either. Just last week, Israeli Professor Moti Cristal announced his intentions to sue a leading British trade union and health trust over claims of discrimination, after they cancelled a speaking engagement due to the fact that he is Israeli.

Noting the comments by SOAS Palestine Solidarity's spokeswoman, Charney called on anti-Israel groups to practice what they preach.

"Maybe some of the boycotters will remember this moment the next time they plan to ostracize someone on the basis of their beliefs or nationality,” he added wryly.

Footage of the incident:

In a similar incident in Paris last month, Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany was chased off stage by muslim Brotherhood supporters (see video below):