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Written by Student Rights on 26 February 2013 at 3pm

Abu Usamah to speak at Reading University

This week Reading University Muslim Society began ‘Discover Islam Week’, a series of talks designed to raise awareness of Islam as a faith.

Sadly, two of the proposed talks have raised concerns amongst students over the nature of the speakers.

On Wednesday, Uthman Lateef will be speaking on justice in Islam, but more concerning is an event on the 28th February featuring the notorious cleric Abu Usamah At-Thahabi.

In 2007 Thahabi was filmed claiming that homosexuality was punishable by death, stating “do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain”.

He later askedIf I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?” when challenged by the media.

Claims he had been misrepresented were dismissed by the media regulator Ofcom, which found that there was “no evidence the broadcaster had misled the audience”.

In addition to this virulent homophobia, he was also filmed stating that “we hate the people of the kufr [non-Muslims]. We hate the kuffar and threatening apostates with execution, arguing “whoever changes his religion from al-Islam to anything else, kill him in the Islamic state”.

He has also declared  “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”.

The invitation of Thahabi will disturb LGBT students, as well as those who may have left Islam, whilst his offensive misogyny suggests female students will also feel threatened.

He has claimed of women that “Allah has created the women, even if she gets a PhD, deficient...her intellect is incomplete, deficient”, and in August 2012 unsubstantiated claims that he had sexually harassed women at the Green Lane Masjid came to light.

This followed reports in a local newspaper that he had been barred from preaching at a mosque in Reading after similar allegations had been made by women there.

In November Student Rights attended a peaceful protest held by students at Brunel University after we informed them that Thahabi had been invited onto campus.

This followed Warwick University Islamic Society rescinding its invitation to Thahabi in January 2012 after Student Rights informed society members of his views.

Student Rights has already spoken to one society at Reading about plans to protest his presence whilst allowing him his right to speak, and will be contacting others.

We will also be calling on the University of Reading to review its decision to allow Thahabi to speak, and expect that the event will be monitored by a member of staff should it go ahead.