Written by Student Rights on 19 February 2014 at 3pm

Anger as preacher who supports FGM speaks at SOAS campus debate

By Anna Davis & Colin Cortbus

19th February 2014

A London university has sparked a row by allowing a preacher who has spoken in support of female genital mutilation to give a talk on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African studies on why lending money with interest is forbidden in Islam.

Dr al-Haddad, who gained a PhD at SOAS, has described homosexuality as a “criminal act” and said there is a “proper” way of performing FGM.

He has also argued that the authorities should not become involved in domestic disputes, saying: “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them.”

On Monday he spoke at an event organised by the SOAS Islamic Finance and Ethics society.

Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights which campaigns against extremism on campuses, said: “He is the epitome of illiberal views that should have no place on university campuses.

“Everyone knows who he is now, there is no excuse. It is not like there is a lack of serious professional decent Islamic scholars in Britain.” A spokesman for SOAS student union said the event was “stewarded” to ensure the discussion remained “on topic”.

Mr Kassam said: “He could have been talking about candyfloss for all I care. This event is still making him a legitimate individual for young impressionable people.”

The event sparked a debate about free speech on the SOAS Rants Facebook page.

Elis Gjevori, who said he was a principal organiser of the event, wrote: “What the speakers believe or don’t believe do not necessarily reflect the views of the society, rather what we are providing is a platform for experts in the field of Islamic economics to come and speak at SOAS.”

One person wrote on the Facebook page: “What if Nick Griffin wants to give a cookery class?”

A spokeswoman for SOAS said the event was the responsibility of the student union.

Dr al-Haddad did not respond to requests for comment. He has previously defended his stance on homosexuality, saying his position is “shared by millions of other people of all faiths in Britain”.

He was stopped from speaking at the LSE in February 2012, but allowed on campus in May that year.

London Metropolitan university said it had “concerns” about an invitation to Dr al-Haddad to speak on campus this year and “following a positive discussion with the talk’s organisers, the students decided not to proceed with the event.”