Inconsistency Exposed as Haitham al-Haddad Invited to Roehampton
The news on Tuesday that an event at the London School of Economics that was due to feature Haitham al-Haddad had been cancelled following complaints from students was welcomed by Student Rights despite raising questions as to why he was cleared to speak in the first place.
It suggested that university authorities were looking at the wider issue of intolerant views being spread on campus rather than whether or not the speaker was breaking the law and making their decisions accordingly.
However, since then we have noted that Haddad has already been invited to give a lecture at another university in the capital, this time at an event at Roehampton on Monday 13th of February called ‘First Love, Last Love: Marriage in Islam’.
Haddad will be speaking alongside Wasim Kempson, a teacher at the Tayyibun Institute who recently shared a platform with Murtaza Khan at London South Bank University. We have contacted the Student Union and Islamic Society, as well as the university authorities, but are yet to receive a response.
That Haddad has been invited onto another campus so swiftly after his previous event was cancelled demonstrates the scale of the problem, and the lack of response from the university highlights the difference in attitude at different institutions.
This was also true on Tuesday when we contacted Goldsmiths in relation to the blogger and TV presenter Hassan Choudhury being invited to speak despite him having expressed support for the views of violent jihadist Anwar Al-Awlaki and radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir.
In response, Goldsmiths sent us a statement which said that “enabling freedom of thought and expression is a fundamental part of Goldsmiths’ mission and values. As such, the Students’ Union and its societies are free to organise events with any external speakers or organisations as long as they adhere to the ‘No Platform’ and ‘Safe Space’ policies which have been democratically voted in place by Goldsmiths students".
As well as this, on the same day the University College London (UCL) Islamic Society made a last minute change of speaker less than 24 hours before their event ‘Prophet Muhammad: Most Influential Man in History?’ started. They replaced Wasim Kempson with Jalal Ibn Saeed, a man whose extreme views Student Rights have raised awareness of in the past.
This is interesting considering the strict rules that societies are supposed to be following regarding the booking of speakers at UCL. Indeed, last month we reported on a disciplinary charge that was brought against the head of the Debating Society after he failed to get clearance for a speaker, having given only three days notice. It is hard to see how the UCL Islamic Society could have got such a controversial speaker cleared in the time available.
This is a story which we will be investigating further, yet it does once again highlight the consistent inconsistency which unfortunately appears to be the standard all too often when universities deal with extremist speakers being invited onto campus. Whilst some are clearly making an effort there is a long way to go yet.