Written by Student Rights on 21 March 2012 at 1pm

Homophobic hate preacher to speak at Hertfordshire University (Update: Event Cancelled)

UPDATE: Student Rights contacted the University, Student Union and LGBT+ Society about this event, as well as raising our concerns with the Islamic Society. We received a statement from the LGBT+ Society which said that:

"The fact that in 2012 we are still seeing such extreme instances of homophobia is something that fills us with both sorrow and concern. We are unsure as to how or why the University has permitted such an event to run as the University generally takes equality very seriously. The LGBT+ Society here at the University of Hertfordshire provides a safe place for LGBT+ people, and if anyone experiences any sort of homophobia (as a result of this event or otherwise), they should contact us or the University in the first instance".

Following this we received a second email from them which stated that: 

"On this occasion neither the University nor the Students' Union had been informed of the event and the correct procedures had not been followed by the organisers. The invitation for Assim Al-Hakeem to attend the event has been revoked and he will not be allowed onto campus.Thank you for bringing this to our attention".

Here at Student Rights we do not often call for speakers to be banned from campuses; the right to freedom of expression is one which should be extended even to those whose views we find offensive. However, the line should be drawn when an individual promotes ideas that constitute hate speech, and this appears to be the case at an event which is being held by the Islamic Society at the De Havilland Campus of Hertfordshire University tomorrow.

Called ‘From Fairytale to Reality: Marriage in Islam’, it will feature Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem as its guest speaker. Here at Student Rights we are concerned that an individual with Al-Hakeem’s intolerant views is being allowed to preach to students given the hate speech that can be found in the question and answer section on his website.

With regards to marriage itself, Al-Hakeem’s advice is misogynistic and aids the subjugation of women. In one question he is asked “my husband libido is too high, he is requiring me three times a day. What can I do?” and replies that“It is not permissible for a wife to refuse fulfilling her husband’s desire. You should answer his calls as this is not physically hurting you. If you can’t do that for no legitimate reason you are sinful”.

That this is the kind of marital advice Al-Hakeem could be providing students is deeply worrying, yet it is his views on homosexuality which go beyond what should be accepted on university campus.

When asked on his website “how can I deal with this problem homosexual [sic]? I can’t stop or control it” he replies that “homosexuality is an illness and something that Allah despises” and that the individual should “try and stay away from whatever reminds you of this filth”.

He also responds to another question by saying that homosexuality turns people into “animals that seek only their sexual satisfaction through their weird ways”.

In this video he declares that homosexuality is “not something that is natural” and is “an abnormality which must be treated”. He also mentions that if you read the Old Testament you would see that the punishment for it was death by stoning. With regards to brutal punishments like this Al-Hakeem has also repeatedly stated in this Q&A section that the punishment for apostasy is death.

That a man who holds these virulently homophobic and misogynistic views is being promoted as someone who can provide advice for students is something that the University of Hertfordshire should be very concerned about and should be investigating as quickly as possible.

Given the views highlighted here Student Rights feel that they should be considering their decision to allow him to speak.