Written by Student Rights on 18 February 2013 at 10pm

"Homosexuals would be executed" says Islamist speaker at campus event (Update: Student Union statement)

UPDATE: The University of Manchester Student Union Executive team has released a short statement in which it has announced an investigation into both the comments made by the speaker and the methods used to obtain the information. 

Footage seen by Student Rights has revealed shocking statements made at an event at Manchester University, showing various Islamist speakers promoting ideas such as the execution of homosexuals and the amputation of thieves' hands.

Student Colin Cortbus attended a meeting at the Students’ Union last Wednesday 13th February organised by the Global Aspi­rations of Women society. He asked the chairperson of the meeting if “in the Islamic society in which you strive for” they would “feel comfortable, personally and morally, to kill a gay man?

Absolutely” came the response. The speakers added later that homosexuality was an “atrocity, because it goes against what God says".

Cortbus also asked whether, in the Islamic state that they were advocating, they would feel confident in killing him if he “did something as completely innocent as kiss another man outside the Students’ Union?

In response, the chair of the meeting said to the small group, “Yeah, abso­lutely, adding “But it’s the fact that you can’t just see it as it is. People have this issue that the punishment, penal code, everything is so completely inhumane, but who even says that these things are inhumane?

Cortbus made the case for a pluralistic Islam, stating that many Muslims would not execute homosexuals and was told "A lot of people would".

The MancUnion newspaper reports further:

When the debate moved onto the subject of the supposed negative effect of homosexuals on society, the chair declared that homosexuality “does not lead to social cohesion,” citing their in­ability to “pro-create” as evidence.

At this point, another attendee joined the debate, asking, “If they can’t have kids, why didn’t they die out ages ago?

Mr Cortbus also asked for the chair­person’s position on stoning adulterers. She reasoned: “Who’s to say that some­one else might see that and think ‘well if he’s allowed to do it why can’t I do it’.”

When Mr Cortbus argued that stoning was not an Islamic practice, the chair­person said: “Even if you went to some­one who was a Muslim, whether they like the idea of stoning an adulterer or not, they will still say to you that it is something that is in Islam".

Khadijah Afzal, chair of Global Aspirations and speaking on behalf of the society, said:

Not once in the discussion was any of this advocated. It was a hypothetical discussion in which people were open to discuss their views, which or may not have necessarily been that of the society. The fact that you have pin pointed only the discussion on the punishment system in Islam shows that you are ignorant of Islam as a political system, and hence decided to play the media rhetoric of Islam equates to harsh punishments and lack of humanity.

People hold various views and opinions about a number of issues on campus, including fascists who are openly allowed to propagate their views under the guise of freedom of speech. What I ask of you is not to be intolerant towards debate especially when it goes against the grain of what you ardently hold on to".

A statement from Students’ Union Wellbeing Officer Cat Gray first addressed the fact that Mr. Cortbus recorded the event, saying:

We are deeply concerned with the covert filming of a student event within the Union. We are also deeply concerned by the suggestion that comments of a homophobic nature have been made. The Union operates a safe space policy where students should not be subject to any form of intimidation or discrimination.

We encourage students who wish to report incidents which have made them feel unsafe to contact any member of the Exec Team".

Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights said:

"What this video shows is the shockingly intolerant attitudes perpetuated by a minority of extremists on British university campuses. That young people studying in diverse environments can host and endorse messages of hatred and violence such as the one displayed here is cause for great concern and we hope the authorities at the University of Manchester will be investigating this incident in a swift and transparent manner".