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Written by Student Rights on 3 April 2012 at 12pm

Not so family friendly 'Family Retreat' at Leicester University

This weekend Leicester University will play host to a 'Family Retreat' called ‘The King of Kings’. Organised by the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF), this event features a number of speakers which we have raised concerns about in the past here at Student Rights.

Chief amongst these is the Chairman of MRDF, Haitham al Haddad, who was recently refused permission to speak at London Metropolitan University. He has been accused of extreme anti-Semitism after a translation of a sermon he gave at Al-Muntada Al-Islami Mosque came to light in February 2012. In this he is alleged to have called Jews descendents of apes and pigs” and quoted from the anti-Semitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.

He has also declared that that the Israeli Defence Force Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 was a good thing as “many Muslims who left their religion became more convinced that they have to go back to their religion”. This is compounded by his homophobia, he recently published an article in which he lamented “the scourge of homosexuality” and called it a “criminal act”. 

Haddad will be joined at the conference by a number of preachers who have aired similar views in the past. These include Yasir Qahdi, who declared that society has “regressed, not progressed” because people can no longer “stand up in public and speak against homosexuality”.

Also present will be the Chairman of the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), Abdurraheem Green. He has been criticised for saying that a husband may use “physical force... a very light beating” against his wife and has argued that “Islam is not compatible with democracy”. 

IERA have themselves been the subject of international media attention in the past after they and their speakers were accused of homophobia and anti-Semitism when they attended a conference in Canada in October 2011.

These have included Yusuf Estes, who has appeared with IERA on a number of occasions, including most recently at Greenwich University on March 31st . He has stated that homosexuality is “known to be from the Devil” and is “a criminal act” in Islam, and will be appearing at the ‘King of Kings’ Conference alongside Haddad, Green and Qadhi.  

This conference has been promoted to students across the country, and will be taking place at an institution where thousands more expect to be able to learn in an environment free from discrimination and hatred. We would hope that the authorities at Leicester University will reconsider their booking policy and ask themselves whether these are the kind of views that they feel happy hosting on their campus.