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Written by Student Rights on 28 February 2014 at 12pm

Islam Awareness Week sees intolerant preachers invited onto campuses

As we reach the end of February, more and more universities across the country are seeing students hold ‘Islam Awareness Weeks’ on campus; programmes of speaker events, discussion groups and socials.

The vast majority of these events are excellent opportunities for students to get to know their peer’s culture and religion, and highlight the good work Muslim students do on and off-campus.

However, given the number of events organised, a small number do feature speakers which are of concern to university authorities, with two events last night worth highlighting.

At Imperial College in London, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) speaker Yusuf Chambers addressed students on the topic ‘Is Life Just a Game?’

Barred from operating at University College London (UCL) in March 2013 after members attempted to enforce gender segregation, IERA’s members include Hamza Tzortzis and Abdurraheem Green.

Chambers has expressed support for brutal punishments, including execution for homosexuality and ‘fornication’, and has claimed that homosexuality is something which “is bad for you”.

Whilst this event was taking place Alomgir Ali, a member of Haitham Al-Haddad’s Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) was addressing students at the University of Coventry.

Ali has spoken at the ‘Belmarsh Iftar’, an event held to support those imprisoned for terrorism offences, and has claimed that “...for a woman, it is best for her to stay in her home, because her home is a natural form of a hijab”.

Meanwhile, an event planned at De Montfort University called ‘The Purpose of Life’ and due to feature Uthman Lateef was cancelleddue to unforeseen circumstances”.

Likely an intervention by the university to prevent Lateef from speaking given his “anti-democratic and homophobic preaching his invitation highlights the ease with which intolerant speakers can be booked.

This is supported by the fact that he is still slated to appear at Oxford Brookes University next Monday to give a talk on the Muslim leader Saladin called ‘The Liberator of Jerusalem’.

Here at Student Rights we are glad to see universities taking a stand against certain speakers, and hope that they are ensuring staff members are present during events of concern that go ahead.

We also hope that the benefits of 'Islam Awareness Week' are not damaged by the presence of extreme or intolerant clerics, and hope that students consider this risk when planning who to invite.