Written by Student Rights on 6 November 2014 at 10am

Islamophobia Awareness Month sees extreme speakers at SOAS

On Tuesday it was reported that an event called ‘Criminalising Islam’, featuring several extreme speakers, would be hosted at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 14 November.

Part of Islamophobia Awareness Month, the talk will see Sulaiman Ghani and Abdullah Al-Andalusi discuss the “movement all across the globe towards the criminalising of Islam...particularly problematic in the “democratic” west”.

Ghani has used the derogatory sectarian term ‘Qadiani’ to refer to Ahmadiyya, claiming they are not Muslims, and has also referred to homosexuality as “unnatural” and “harmful”.

Al-Andalusi, meanwhile, has claimed liberal democracy is a “totalitarian system”, and written that “Democracy, Secularism, Feminism, Humanism and Freedom” are “blatantly un-Islamic concepts”.

The two will be joined by Dilly Hussain, whose attacks on one Muslim woman who disagreed with him as “pisshead, drunken liberal garbage” and “[a] stupid liberal cow” do not bode well for the prospect of balanced debate.

Allowing such individuals an unchallenged platform to spread the event’s divisive message is deeply irresponsible, yet this is just one of two talks at SOAS next week which should raise concerns.

It is preceded on 12 November by Asim Qureshi speaking alongside Victoria Brittain on how “the "war on terror" has been used to stifle and delegitimise the Muslim community in Britain”.

The executive director of CAGE, Qureshi has been filmed saying:

When we see the examples of our brothers and sisters, fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, then we know where the example lies...

...We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the West”.

CAGE itself has a history of support for convicted terrorists, including Djamel Beghal and Nizar Trabelsi, as well as Dr Aafia Siddiqui – jailed in the US in 2010 for attempted murder.

Despite this, the Islamic Society at SOAS has written that it will be working with CAGE throughout November to “highlight the increasing Islamophobia faced by Muslims in Britain".

Discussing anti-Muslim bigotry and the impact of security policy on the Muslim community are important topics, yet speakers must not be able to reinforce grievances which could lead students towards extremism without opposition. 

As such, Student Rights hopes SOAS staff will discuss the need to balance these events with the organisers, and students will attend the lectures in order to challenge the speakers on their views.