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Written by Student Rights on 6 June 2013 at 3pm

Shady Al-Suleiman to speak at FOSIS Conference

On 28th May Omar Ali, the President of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), wrote in the Huffington Post that his organisation were part of “the biggest barrier to violent extremism”.

He also complained of demonisation and criticised the Prevent Strategy as “counter-productive”, arguing that there was no Muslim student group that would encourage or promote extremism.

Whilst FOSIS’ condemnation of the Woolwich attack should be commended, it is difficult to take Ali’s words seriously when Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman will be addressing the FOSIS Annual Conference on 26th June.

Al-Suleiman has suggested that Muslims should “ask Allah to save your Muslim brothers and sisters all around the world, especially in Gaza right now and for Allah to give them victory over their enemies, and for Allah to destroy the enemies of Islam”.

He also pushes the idea that there is a war against Islam rather than violent Islamist militants, claiming that Hamas are only targeted because they are Muslims:

They have been put under siege, oppressively and aggressively, unjustly. Why? Because they say there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger

...

The truth is this is a war not on Palestinians, this is a war not on Hamas, this is a war not on the people of Gaza. This is a war on everyone that says there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger”.

In addition to this, his views on jihad are of deep concern, with a talk entitled ‘Path to Knowledge’ suggesting that:

Whoever goes out to fight to uphold the word of Allah, which is “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger”, he is the one on the path of Allah”.

He continues by saying:

The one that neglects jihad, the prophet called him a hypocrite. So a sign of a believer is a believer that reminds himself of jihad”.

He also claims that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a jihad, and that Muslims should support this both financially and spiritually:

 “...what goes on in Palestine, it is jihad, more than 100%. And whoever says ‘no’ is only a person that’s got hypocrisy in his heart. For Muslims to get attacked the way they are getting attacked right now, it is jihad. And whoever fights in that position, he is on the path of Allah. And whoever protects the Muslim countries, he is on the path of Allah. And whoever thinks twice, he’s got hypocrisy in his heart”.

...the minimum the Muslims should do outside that area, the minimum, the minimum they should do is support them financially or with prayers. Pray for them. Support them financially. For every cent that goes there, Allah will multiply this”. 

Following this, he concludes with a prayer for the victory of Islamist insurgents around the world, including those fighting against British soldiers in Afghanistan:

Give victory to the Muslims in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Give victory to all the Mujahideen all over the world. Oh Allah, prepare us for the jihad

In 2010 he was also reported to have organised an event at Lakemba Mosque in his native Sydney which featured an address from the Al-Qaeda facilitator Anwar Al-Awlaki.

This talk was condemned by Sheikh Hilaly, the senior Imam at the mosque, as well as by a director of the mosque who stated that the event had led to approval procedures being changed.

Al-Suleiman has since stated that he believes Al-Awlaki “goes too extreme with regards of dealing with the west”, but does believe that there are some Awlaki lectures that people could benefit from.

He has also stressed that innocent people should not be targeted in the West, yet does repeatedly state that the "kuffar" kill women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That FOSIS believes him to be a suitable speaker for its Annual Conference should certainly call into question the group’s ability to full challenge extremist narratives.

Given these views, there is also surely an argument for the Home Office to consider excluding Al-Suleiman from entering the UK, as was done with Dr Zakir Naik in 2010.

Here at Student Rights we would urge FOSIS to reconsider this invitation, and would also hope that, in the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby, the Home Office will investigate speakers like Al-Suleiman travelling to the UK, particularly to address students.