Published: 21:01, 16 March 2015 |
Updated: 21:51, 16 March 2015
An Islamic preacher accused of promoting homophobic and antisemitic views has been banned from speaking at the University of Kent.
Haitham al-Haddad, who presides over a sharia court, was invited to give a talk on sharia law by the university's Islamic Society as part of its “Discover Islam Week" until the university intervened.
In the past al-Haddad has claimed a man should not be questioned for hitting his wife, and has defended female genital mutilation.
He has refuted claims he encourages homophobia and antisemitism, but was recently banned by the University of Westminster, where Mohammad Emwazi, or “Jihadi John”, was radicalised.
Al-Haddad sits as a judge at a sharia court in East London, where he presides over cases attended by Muslims seeking to resolve religious or legal matters.
Sharia courts have no official jurisdiction in the UK, and operate on a purely voluntarily basis.
"Haitham al-Haddad's misogynistic, homophobic and anti-semitic views do not, in my opinion, belong on campus" - University of Kent Jewish Society president Natacha Woodcock
The Islamic Society released a statement on its website stating the event had been "postponed".
It said: "The university has taken the decision to postpone the event. We apologise unreservedly for any inconvenience caused. We made every effort to try make this event take place. Hopefully we will be able to benefit from the expertise of the speaker in future."
Several student groups at Kent have expressed disappointment that Haitham al-Haddad has been banned from speaking.
The student union at Kent imposes a 'no platform' policy intended to prevent extremist speakers from airing their views on campus.
It bans "any individual who is known to hold racist or fascist views from distributing any written or recorded material in the union which expresses those views… [these include] a member of racist or fascist organisations such as British National Party, Combat 18, Hizbut-Tahrir, MPAC UK, or National Front."
This is intended to protect students from minority groups but is not without its detractors, who believe universities should be places where controversial views are debated and challenged.
Student paper The Tab has questioned how the 'no platform' policy is being implemented by the student union given the university had to step in to impose a ban.
However, president of the University of Kent Jewish Society Natacha Woodcock told The Tab she was "relieved" al-Haddad wasn't speaking.
In a statement to the student newspaper, she said: "Haitham al-Haddad's misogynistic, homophobic and anti-semitic views do not, in my opinion, belong on campus.
"It could have harmed the welfare of female students, LGBT students, Jewish students, and the many moderate Muslim students would have been (without being asked) represented by an extremist."
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