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Written by Student Rights on 5 February 2014 at 4pm

Sahar Al-Faifi and the Muslimah’s Renaissance

Yesterday evening Student Rights received a letter from a number of students at the University of Sheffield who are concerned about an event due to take place on campus on the 10th March.

Part of a wider tour called ‘The Muslimah’s Renaissance’, a series of events from Lancaster to Cardiff will feature FOSIS member Sahar Al-Faifi and discuss issues related to women and Islam.

The students who contacted us have raised concerns about Al-Faifi’s Islamist views, and believe that her presence on campus will damage campus cohesion and “create an atmosphere of fear”.

Key to their concerns are a number of Al-Faifi’s tweets, including one responding to an article on genetics and the Bible which asks:

What about the Rothschild Jews and their branches in Palestine, would such genetic research effect their banking empire

Another shows anti-Shia sectarian prejudice, claiming that there is:

Nothing worse than a Shia who flipped and became a secularist attacking Islamists! Combining the worst of the two!

In addition to this, she has also used Twitter to describe the Bangladeshi war criminal Abdul Qadar Mollah, convicted of responsibility for over 300 deaths during the 1971 Civil War, as “a symbol of resistance against oppression”.

However, while these views should raise concerns, and universities on the tour should ensure a member of staff is present at her events, we do not feel calls should be made for Al-Faifi to be banned from campus.

We believe that speakers should only be barred if they have a more extensive history of hate speech, or if they are a member of a ‘No Platformed’ organisation like the BNP or Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Instead, we would encourage students who are angered by her invite to make their feelings clear to both their Student Union and the society which has invited her, and hope that the university will facilitate this process.

We also hope that these students will attend the events at which Al-Faifi is speaking to challenge her from the floor, and that universities will allow this (a vital example of critical thinking and academic freedom) to go ahead.