A row has broken out at a British university following the use of an ISIS flag in an event discussing Islam. Critics argue that using the ISIS flag is “inappropriate” as it doesn’t represent Islam. Supporters however, note that ISIS claims to be acting on behalf of Muslims, and has at its core fundamental Islamist philosophy.
“This House believes Islam is incompatible with Western Liberal Democracy,” was the motion set by Durham’s debating society for their first event of the new academic year. Bold. Then they publicised the event on social media with an image of Islamic State (IS) jihadists. Bolder.
“ISIS is not Muslim!!! It’s Islamophobic propaganda to say that!!!” wrote Konrad Urban on the event page. “Your photograph reveals this debate to be nothing more than an attempt to smear and demonise the second largest faith group in the world,” added Richard Harris.
“Totally inappropriate… expect a formal complaint to the university,” chipped in Zainah El-Haroun. “Disgusting. Noted, screen shotted and will be forwarding to relevant parties to get to the bottom of this,” commented a blogger.
Within 24 hours the photo was gone and the society’s president, Napap Rungsrithananon, wrote in a grovelling Facebook post: “I would like to sincerely apologise to everyone for the offence that may have been caused by the picture posted for the upcoming Islam debate.
“I recognise that it was a poor choice of image, however no malice was intended, and I regret any unintentional harm it has caused. The picture was removed within 24 hours of being posted and will not be featuring in any ongoing publicity material for the event.”
Some on social media were more measured. Commenter Vivek Rajcoomar wrote: “Heaven forbid people think ISIS are Muslims. Of course they aren’t representative of British Muslims, but they’re still part of the Islamic family. The ISIS pic was/is fair game.”
The apology and redaction, however, did not satisfy all. Durham graduate Osha Al is now encouraging students to forward an open email to university officials, calling for a further formal apology:
“While the photograph that was initially chosen for the Facebook event has since been taken down and an apology posted on the group following several messages of complaint, this is simply not enough,” the e-mail reads, according to the Northern Echo.
For now, the debate is still going ahead.
Arguing against the motion are guests speakers the right Reverend Tim Stevens, former Bishop of Leicester, Farmida Bi, Head of Islamic Finance at Norton Rose Fulbright Europe, and Adam Deen of the Deen Institute.
For the motion are Con Coughlin, the Telegraph’s Defence Editor, and Arif Ahmed, Senior Philosophy Lecturer at the University of Cambridge.