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Written by Student Rights on 21 June 2013 at 2pm

Controversial cleric to address FOSIS Conference

On 6th June Student Rights revealed that Shady Al-Suleiman had been invited to address the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) Annual Conference despite his worrying views on jihad.

Following this, all speakers listed were removed from the Conference website, creating turmoil amongst students who complained about the lack of information on Facebook.

FOSIS President Omar Ali then claimed on 7th June that Al-Suleiman would not be attending, but not due to Student Rights’ exposure of his views.

In the past week a new list of speakers has been published. Sadly it seems that FOSIS has not learned from the controversy, organising several video messages from extremely contentious preachers.

The most divisive of these is Muhammad Al-Arifi, a Saudi scholar who has been widely criticised for his sectarian views.

In the video below he can be seen declaring that Shia are “evil” and that they “set traps for monotheism”, as well as regaling the audience with examples of Shiite treachery.

In addition to this, on 14th June Al-Arifi called for jihad in Syria "in every way possible" whilst visiting Cairo.

In another video he states to the people of Syria:

your brother’s hearts are with you, and our money is with you, and our arms, by the will of Allah, are ready and will soon be with you...we are going to be following you soon to fight with you”.

In February 2013 he also stated that “Al-Qaeda members do not tolerate accusing other Muslims of apostasy and they do not tolerate bloodshed” and that “...al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Oussama Bin Laden, may his soul rest in peace, did not adopt many of the thoughts that are attributed to him today”.

Following widespread criticism he later retracted these views, declaring that he had been mislead by false information and interviews with Al-Qaeda fighters.

Visiting the UK this week for a speaking tour which includes a charity dinner promoted to students at Queen Mary University, Al-Arifi has been opposed by Muslim leaders including Yousef Al-Khoei who stated:

"He [Al-Arefe] has been very vocal in trying to create these divisions. But we will work to make sure these guys don't win...Whenever this happens, the community gets together to fight it. We can't allow people to come from abroad to promote their hate message in this country”.

Al-Khoei has been joined by Labour MP Khalid Mahmood who said:

"These preachers are purely here to promote themselves and create divisions where none need to exist... This is just another branch of hatred, and it's bizarre the Home Office doesn't listen to people who are concerned about this”.

A video message will also be provided by Salman Al-Oudeh, another leading Saudi scholar who declared in August 2012 that the Holocaust “has been turned into a myth of tremendous proportions” and that “through this Holocaust the Jews began to extort many governments worldwide”.

He continued by saying that “the role of the Jews is to wreak destruction, to wage war and to practice deception and extortion” and that Jews use human blood to make Passover matza, luring children to sacrifice in religious rites. 

That FOSIS feels these speakers are suitable for its Annual Conference is astonishing, and given the calls to exclude Al-Arifi from the country from senior Muslim figures due to fears over community cohesion the decision to play these messages must surely be re-examined.

 

Following the Woolwich attack President Ali wrote that Muslim students were demonised and that his organisation was part of “the biggest barrier to violent extremism” in the UK.

Following this news it is likely that Shia and Jewish students will disagree, and here at Student Rights we would urge FOSIS to reconsider its plans.

We will also be contacting the University of Birmingham, the host venue for the event, to ensure that they examine any steps that need to be taken in relation to these video messages, and will update this story as it develops.