A hardline Islamic preacher who has attacked Jews, glorified violent jihad, and supported wife-beating has addressed students at a prominent London university.
The Islamic Society at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) invited Abdur Raheem Green to speak at their annual charity week dinner on November 4th.
The University’s Student Union (SU) has a strict “safe space” policy, which promised to protect students from events that are “hostile or exclusionary or triggering”, “promote equality and diversity”, and “prioritise” women’s rights.
In November last year, the SU was accused of banning the liberal Muslim journalist Mona Eltahawy, who advocates a “sexual revolution” in the Islamic world, as she might “offend” Muslim students.
However, defending the decision to host Mr. Green, the SU stressed their commitment to “free speech”.
Mr. Green has previously written that conflict between Islam and Western societies is “ordered in the Koran” and told his followers that “Islam teaches its followers to seek death on the battlefield”.
He has claimed men can use “physical force” on their wives and has been caught on camera in London’s Hyde Park abusing a Jewish man. He said: “Why don’t you take the Yahoudi [Jew] over there far away so his stench doesn’t disturb us?”
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Posted by Abdurraheem Green on Friday, 4 November 2016
Speaking to the BBC in 2009, he conceded his views were “extreme”, but insisted he disavowed terrorism.
“I surely have said some pretty radical things and maybe even written some radical things in the past,” he said. “But one thing I have been very consistent on is terrorism…”
The Australian government put him on a travel “watch list” and banned him from travelling to the country in 2005. He has also been barred from speaking at Canadian universities and attending Arsenal football games because of his anti-Semitic statements.
His history, however, did not stop the Muslim students embracing him at the London university.
A spokesman for the SOAS SU told the Evening Standard: “The union supports the school’s values on freedom of speech. This can only be conducted effectively in an atmosphere of open inquiry, mutual tolerance and intellectual freedom.
“However, freedom of expression may not be exercised to threaten the safety or freedom of expression of others.”
A university spokesman added: “SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions. However, this does not permit the expression of views that are against the law.”
Mr. Green responded by defending the concept of jihad. He said: “Jihad wasn’t a dirty word 20 years ago. Now if you say ‘jihad’ you probably think of terrorism or [Islamic State]. I don’t encourage anyone who lives here to go and participate and to go abroad and fight.”
The preacher also denied encouraging violence against women and claimed he now only advocated “self-improvement”.