Written by Student Rights on 11 October 2012 at 3pm

Social media, student societies, and the promotion of intolerant speakers (Update: Dr Khalid Fikry event 'Wrestle for Syria' also promoted)

UPDATE: In the past two weeks the London Metropolitan University Islamic Society has also promoted an event called 'Wrestle for Syria', which features Dr Khalid Fikry as a speaker. This event has also been promoted to the Islamic Society at King's College London.

The past year has seen some encouraging progress from universities across the country when it comes to challenging the invitation of extremist and intolerant speakers onto campuses.

At London Metropolitan University this included refusing permission for both Haitham Al-Haddad and Uthman Lateef to speak in March 2012, and preventing Murtaza Khan from addressing students after “room booking problems”.

Despite these successes there is little that universities can do about students attending external off-campus events featuring similar speakers, and nor should there be.

However, they do have the power to prevent affiliated societies from using their social media pages to promote these events and encouraging students to attend.

On the 4th October the Islamic Society at London Met shared a promotional poster for an event at Al-Risaalah Masjid entitled ‘The Blessed Days of Dhul Hijjah’ and told members “amazing line up of speakers! Please share”.

The list of ‘amazing’ speakers includes Haitham Al-Haddad, who been filmed defending Hamas, stating that “there is a high level of enmity and hatred against Hamas as a Muslim group”.

He also believes that homosexuality is a “criminal act” and a “scourge”, and has written 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”.

The event also features Uthman Lateef, refused permission to speak at Nottingham Trent University just last week. Lateef has told audiences that secularists “will sell you a democratic Islam, a socialist Islam, a social democratic Islam, every Islam except the Islam of Mohammed”.

In 2007 he made openly homophobic comments, stating  that “we don’t accept homosexuality...we hate it because Allah hates it”.

As the Director of the Hittin Institute, Lateef also oversaw the work of another speaker at this event, Adnan Rashid. Now working for the Islamic Education and Research Academy, Rashid has claimed that “Islam’s legacy is deliberately hidden from the masses to justify the ongoing global persecution of the Muslims”.

In a report for the Hittin Institute, Rashid also wrote that “the Muslims...should be allowed to run the affairs of Palestine and other Islamic lands ensuring that the Islamic law is implemented comprehensively”.

However, it is not just intolerance for non-Muslims, homosexuals and secularism that will be on display at this event, with the virulently anti-Shia activist Dr Khalid Fikry also present.

The founder of the ‘Society for the Defence of the Honour of Prophet Muhammad’, an anti-Shia group, Fikry has declared that the “Shia are one of the worst and greatest enemies against our Ummah nowadays”.

If Student Unions feel they have a responsibility to censure societies for posting the Jesus and Mo web-comic on Facebook, or naming a pineapple Mohammed, then they should be challenging the promotion of these ideas as well.

Whilst they cannot prevent students from interacting with extremists off-campus, they can at least make an effort to ensure that social media affiliated to the university is not used to promote intolerance and hatred.