International students who praise Hamas could have their UK visas revoked under plans being drawn up by the Home Office.
Politicians in the US have also called on the government to expel foreigners who endorse Hamas.
UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that Home Office officials are looking into how they can deport students on security grounds where there is evidence of an individual supporting Hamas.
Under current UK laws, the home secretary can revoke visas of anyone who expresses views justifying or glorifying terrorist violence.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak responded to questions about this.
“The increase in incidents we’ve seen over the past week is utterly sickening and this government will do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe,” Sunak said.
“We will not tolerate this hatred”
“Under our existing immigration rules we do have the power to cancel a person’s presence in the UK if it is not conducive to the public good.
“We will not tolerate this hatred, not in our country, not in this century.”
Education ministers Gillian Keegan and Robert Halfon also wrote to vice-chancellors on October 11 urging them to act “swiftly and decisively” against threats to the welfare of Jewish students.
“We have seen evidence of a number of student societies that support Palestinians sending out inflammatory messages that show support for Hamas,” they wrote.
“The effects of these are already being felt by Jewish students, many of whom are being made to feel that they need to hide their Jewish identity.”
Some students who are members of Palestinian societies at UK universities have been reported to the police for allegedly supporting Hamas and the Home Office is reportedly looking into specific cases.
SOAS university in London has suspended several students after they attended a pro-Palestine rally. The university’s Palestinian student society said that members who were not present at the rally were also issued with formal disciplinary warnings from the university.
In a statement, the students said this was “a targeted act of political repression”.
SOAS did not respond to requests for comment.
Universities UK noted it is important that universities “enable and support students and staff to debate and discuss this crisis, and the most challenging issues it raises, within the law, and with respect and tolerance”.
The group added that Hamas is “a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK and signalling support, including moral support or expressing an opinion or belief that is supportive, is a criminal offence, as outlined in the Terrorism Act (2000)”.
“We will continue to bring universities together to share their approaches to managing campus relations in this extremely difficult period,” UUK wrote in a statement.
Politicians in the US have also called on the government to expel foreigners who support Hamas.
Senator Tim Scott, who is running for president in 2024, wrote on X, “The foreign national students on visas who are protesting against our ally Israel should be sent back to their country.
“It’s devastating to see people in our country celebrating a terrorist organisation for the annihilation of our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
Another senator, Tim Cotton, wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security suggesting international students who signed a joint letter from various Harvard student societies blaming Israel for the Hamas attacks should be deported.
Former president Donald Trump also pledged to revoke the visas of “antisemitic” foreign students if he is re-elected in 2024.
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