Written by Student Rights on 27 January 2014 at 1pm

Gender segregation debate organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters

This week a ‘Women Only’ event is due to take place at the University of Westminster which will attack claims that “segregated seating is a fringe Islamic idea held by extremists” and defend its imposition.

This would be more credible however if the event was not being organised and hosted by two groups which have a history of promoting the extreme Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) and its members.

The ‘Women’s Take on Current Affairs Society’ at the University of Westminster, which is hosting the event, has invited senior HT figures Shohana Khan and Sultanah Parvin to speak on campus in the past.

Khan, HT’s ‘Women’s Deputy Media Representative’, has claimed that “Muslim women want more Islam and more Shari'ah, and supports harsh punishments for sex outside of marriage and “making a lustful glance at a woman a crime”.

The second group behind the event is ‘Women against oppression – Liberation through Islam’, which describes itself as “female Muslim students” who “aim to engage in discussion about current issues affecting women and students locally and abroad, giving the Islamic perspective on these issues”.

This group regularly shares HT videos and material on Facebook, and has also referred to HT’s leading female representative in the UK Dr Nazreen Nawaz as “our sister”, sharing videos or statements from her on more than 20 occasions.

In 2010 Ofcom ruled that Dr Nawaz condoned marital rape after she said “the idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband's relations, this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage”.

HT is ‘No Platformed’ by the National Union of Students (NUS), and was described by Prevent as “target[ing] specific universities and colleges...with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students”.

The group opposes democracy, arguing that “...whoever does not rule whatever Allah has revealed, denying Allah’s right to legislate, as is the case with those who believe in democracy, is a Kafir”.

It also supports the use of barbaric punishments, including the death penalty for apostasy, declaring that:

...the rule regarding the Muslim who becomes apostate is to require his repentance. If he insists on his disbelief, the capital punishment is applied on him”.

In addition to this, HT is ideologically misogynist, with Article 109 of its draft constitution ordering that men and women be segregated in public and private and Article 113 stating that women have to cover up with only their hands and face showing.

As such, it seems clear these two groups (which at the very least are inspired by HT, if not front groups for the organisation), are attempting to portray their support for discriminatory gender segregation as mainstream student opinion.  

They are also perpetuating the idea that opposition to this practice is an attack on Islam, marginalising those Muslim women who were at the forefront of opposition to Universities UK’s guidance on this issue last year.

With this in mind, here at Student Rights we hope that students who oppose gender discrimination on campus will attend this event and challenge the speakers, showing that these narratives are fringe opinion and that our universities should not accept them.