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Written by Student Rights on 27 April 2012 at 1pm

Haitham al-Haddad cancels on Kingston Islamic Society

With exams and the end of the academic year fast approaching, many student societies around the country are planning their end of year dinners at the moment.

This Friday, members of the Islamic Societies at Kingston and Roehampton Universities will come together for a joint annual dinner called ‘The Muslim Personality’. Like many societies they will be enjoying a three course meal and friendly competition, in this case a university challenge.

Unlike many societies they also invited Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad, a man who’s intolerant and extreme views have been highlighted by Student Rights a number of times in the past. Having advertised Al-Haddad as their speaker they today replaced him with Saeed Al-Qaahdi, as it was announced that he had pulled out due to another engagement. 

Banned from speaking at the LSE in February, and recently refused permission to speak at London Metropolitan University, Haddad has stated 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”.  

He has been filmed defending Hamas on a number of occasions, and said that the reason that they are not supported by the West is because “there is a high level of enmity and hatred against Hamas as a Muslim group”.

As well as encouraging this idea that the West is fighting against Islam, he has also 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.

His support for an Islamist paramilitary group which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government can perhaps be partly explained by his own Islamist belief that “it is obligatory for those Muslims living under the shadow of man-made law to take all the necessary steps and means to make the law of Allah, the Creator and the Sustainer, supreme and manifest in all aspects of life”.

He has also complained of “the scourge of homosexuality”, as well as calling it a “criminal act”, in a deeply homophobic article called ‘Standing up against homosexuality and LGBTs’

Student Rights have spoken to Kingston University who confirmed to us that he will now no longer be attending as he has another engagement, and provided us with a statement which said:

With regards to individuals in general speaking at University or Student Union events, Kingston University and KUSU take their responsibilities for the safety and well-being of staff and students very seriously and do not tolerate any behaviour that might be construed as incitement to racial hatred. Universities and student unions do also, however, have an obligation to protect and promote freedom of speech.

Please note that Kingston University Students’ Union (KUSU) societies operate under the banner of the Students’ Union, which is an organisation separate from Kingston University. Should the University or KUSU be made aware of any complaints about the views expressed at society events, however, they would work closely together to resolve the issue.

If students at these universities wish to invite a man with such a history of intolerant views and political extremism they should do it openly and make a debate of the issue, allowing students to challenge Al-Haddad on his homophobia, misogyny and his tacit support for terrorism.

However, this event would not have been taking place on a campus, but would have been hosted at the Kingston Holiday Inn, with students paying to attend. This creates a closed environment, and would have given Al-Haddad an unchallenged platform from which to prostelyse.

Here at Student Rights we hope that, in future, both Kingston and Roehampton University make it clear to their students that if they wish to book speakers like Al-Haddad they must ensure that there is a chance for those who oppose his views to challenge him.