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Written by Student Rights on 15 August 2014 at 7am

University must be aware of 'Family Retreat' speakers

Next weekend the University of Leicester will play host to the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) as it hosts its annual ‘Family Retreat’.

Led by Haitham Al-Haddad until his recent retirement, the group is still refusing to announce its speakers, instead sayingwe will...have as per usual a line up of National and International speakers”.

This is likely to avoid criticism over those it will invite – and previous ‘Family Retreat’ rosters suggest that speakers with histories of extreme or intolerant views will be present.

In 2013 the event took place at the University of Nottingham and saw Haddad, criticised for homophobia and intolerance towards apostates, joined by Zahir Mahmood and Hamza Tzortzis.  

Mahmood has claimed that Hamas “are not terrorists”, while Tzortzis has argued apostates should be killed in an Islamic state and that Muslims reject freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, the 2012 event at the University of Leicester featured Haddad alongside Tzortzis’ superior at the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) Abdurraheem Green.

Green has claimed “Islam is not compatible with democracy" and that a husband may use "physical force... a very light beating" against his wife, while IERA is barred from University College London (UCL).

Students at City University have already been encouraged to apply to MRDF for financial help to allow them to attend, and previous years have also seen the event targeting a student audience.   

With this in mind it is vital that the University of Leicester is aware who has been invited to address attendees – and takes appropriate steps should this include speakers with a history of extremism.