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Written by Student Rights on 2 December 2011 at 8pm

SOAS Tonight: Intolerance and an unbalanced platform

This evening the Islamic Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies will be hosting an event entitled ‘An Evening with the Scholar’ with Sheikh Sulaiman GhaniDescribed as an “exclusive Q&A” it offers students who have “had questions about Islam or wanted to find out information about Islam” the chance to discuss them with a “top Muslim scholar”.

Whilst Sheikh Ghani, a senior Imam at Tooting Islamic Centre, has credentials as an important member of the Muslim community that are not in doubt, some of the people he has chosen to associate with certainly do. On the 1st May 2010 he was a speaker at an event on Voting in Britain organised by the extremist Islamist party Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Whilst arguing that Muslims should involve themselves in voting he said that “one of the candidates is a Qadiani (derogatory term for Ahmadiyya)...people who go there, they may think that he’s a Muslim”.

These intolerant sentiments were further exposed later that day when he was secretly recorded at the Centre saying that “The majority of Muslims in this area are voting Lib Dem, because they think Nasser Butt is a Muslim”, again reflecting the bigoted attitude that Ahmadiyya are not Muslims. On top of this Student Rights has also viewed a YouTube video ‘Beware Deception of the Qadiani Ahmadiyya in which Sheikh Ghani is the speaker.

The anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment amongst British Sunnis that rhetoric causes was all too evident earlier in the campaign when on 14th April a Conservative candidate was mistaken for Butt and had to be locked in a cupboard for his own safety.

He is also profiled as a presenter on the Islam Channel which has had its own share of controversies over broadcasting extremist material. In 2009 the channel was accused of running adverts for the Al-Qaeda linked cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, and in 2010 it was censured by OfCom for advocating marital rape and domestic violence.

At Student Rights we are concerned that a man who holds these prejudiced views towards a religious minority, and has shared a platform with a group banned from universities by the National Union of Students is being presented as an impartial scholar on the subject of Islam.