Abu Usamah to appear at Brunel University
Update: It has emerged that one of the statements attributed to Abu Usamah concerning forcing young girls to wear the hijab in this article should instead be attributed to another preacher at the Green Lane Masjid called Muhammad Al-Jibali. This has been wrongly attributed to Thahabi for a number of years so we have removed this from our article, yet this should not take anything away from the severity of his other views.
British universities are bastions of freedom of expression admired all over the world, yet they should not be providing a platform for individuals who have called for the death of homosexuals and apostates, and who have openly declared their hatred other communities.
Next week will see Brunel Islamic Society hold ‘Legends Week’, a series of talks discussing prominent Muslim figures including the Prophet Muhammad and his companion Abu Dharr, one of the earliest converts to Islam.
Unfortunately, the second event in this series will include a lecture by the infamous extremist cleric Abu Usamah At-Thahabi, who will discuss the life of Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet.
Caught on camera in 2007 by Channel 4, Thahabi’s past statements have demonstrated an extraordinary intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims, stating that “we hate the people of the kufr [non-Muslims]. We hate the kuffar”.
He also declared that “we ask Allah to bring about the means and the ways in which the Muslims will get the power and the honour of repelling the oppression of the kuffar, where we can go out and perform the jihad”.
More alarming was his suggestion that homosexuality was punishable by death, stating “do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain”.
When challenged on this he asked “If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?”
He has also threatened apostates from Islam with execution, telling his congregation that “whoever changes his religion from al-Islam to anything else, kill him in the Islamic state”.
Despite Thahabi’s claims that he had been misrepresented and his remarks had been taken out of context by Channel 4, the media regulator Ofcom found that there was “no evidence the broadcaster had misled the audience”.
As well as inviting a speaker who will be seen a threatening by LGBT students, as well as those who may have left Islam, Abu Usamah’s deeply unpleasant ideas about women suggest that these are not the only students who will be at risk if he is allowed to preach on campus.
Thahabi has claimed of women that “Allah has created the women, even if she gets a PhD, deficient...her intellect is incomplete, deficient”.
In August 2012 he was also named by a website based in Birmingham which alleged that he had sexually harassed women at the Green Lane Masjid in Sparkbrook, whilst a local newspaper uncovered that he had been barred from preaching at a mosque in Reading after allegations had come to light.
In January Student Rights found that Thahabi had been invited to speak at Warwick University by the Islamic Society and contacted them with a summary of his views.
In response, the Islamic Society cancelled the event, telling us that had they been aware of his comments “we would have not invited him to talk at the University of Warwick at all”.
Here at Student Rights we are reluctant to call for speakers to be barred from campuses, as the right to freedom of expression should be extended even to those whose views we find offensive.
However, universities have a duty of care to their students, and providing a platform for an individual whose beliefs will threaten and intimidate a significant part of the student population should not be tolerated.
We will be calling on Brunel University to review its decision to allow Thahabi to speak, and we would hope that should this event go ahead, it will be monitored by a member of staff to ensure that there is no opportunity for hate speech to be spread.