The University of London Union is considering banning the sale of the Daily Mail following reports its sister paper, the Mail, on Sunday had been trying to bribe students to spy on their Muslim colleagues.
The weekly was said to have offered student journalists 100 pounds (USD 170) to pose as Muslims and secretly record any meeting of Muslim societies in an attempt to report claims of Islamic radicals being active on campuses.
According to the London Student magazine, two reporters from the Mail on Sunday have been trying to bribe students into such undercover activities, including at Imperial College and the World Rival Society at Queen Mary’s.
"This is further proof that sections of the media are fanning the flames of Islamophobia," the president of the World Revival Society, Rezaul Rana, was quoted as saying.
Rana criticized the underhand tactics of "sensationalist and polemicist journalists" as chasing false and juicy stories in the hope of making quick money.
"At a time when Muslims are being depicted as the `enemy within’, what the media ought to focus on is to remove the misconceptions and prejudices about Muslims, who live here and continue to contribute to British society immensely," the society’s president said.
The exposure of the secret targeting of Muslims comes after the paper’s owners, Associated Newspapers, became embroiled in a campaign against London Mayor Ken Livingstone over comments he made to a Jewish reporter working for London’s Evening Standard.
The campaign led to Livingstone being suspended for a month for describing the reporter as a Nazi guard, although the High Court has since allowed the mayor to appeal against the unprecedented ban.
The president of the National Union of Students, Kat Fletcher, also criticized the latest tactics by the Mail on Sunday as "essentially a bribe to spy on their fellow students."
"It is extremely sad that a Sunday newspaper would seek to undo this hard work and divide the student population at a time when we need to continue to work together," Fletcher said.
Although the University of London Union does not stock the weekly because its shops are not open on Sunday, it was said to be considering banning the sale of the Daily Mail in protest at the newspaper group’s tactics.
London Student, which exposed the bribery attempt, is the fortnightly paper that is claimed by be read by some 75,000 of the 120,000 students at the various colleges of the University of London.