A controversial Islamic preacher who described homosexuality as a “scourge” has been invited to speak at a London university’s Islamic society just a day before a national gay pride event takes place there.
Haitham al-Haddad, who has been invited to speak at the University of Westminster’s Islamic Society, has previously called homosexuality a “criminal act”. He also claimed there is a “proper” way of performing female genital mutilation (FGM) and said that state authorities should not get involved in cases of domestic abuse. “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them,” he said.
According to the London Evening Standard, his speech at an event called “Who Is Muhammad” is due to take place on Thursday, one day before the National Student Pride Festival launches at the university.
A spokesman for Student Pride said: “Considering Westminster is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and is such an advocate of our event it is disappointing that on the eve of our tenth anniversary such an anti-gay speaker has been allowed to speak on campus.”
This is not the first time a student Islamic society has caused controversy by inviting al-Haddad to speak. A similar row happened when he spoke at a previous University of Westminster event in 2013. He was also prevented from speaking at the London School of Economics in February 2012, but was later allowed on campus in May that year.
Last year he spoke at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies on Sharia banking, with a spokesman the student union saying the event was “stewarded” to make sure the debate “stayed on topic”.
The Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University also invited him to speak last year, but withdrew the invitation after the university’s authorities expressed “concerns”.
A spokesman for the University of Westminster said: “The University of Westminster is committed to maintaining freedom of speech and a range of views as set out in the Education Act 1986. As a diverse community of local and international students of many faiths, respect and tolerance is our foremost concern and we will be monitoring the event carefully and any student concerns.
“The University has a strict speaker policy which means that all speakers are required to give their agreement to abide by a code of practice. Speakers who do not comply with this policy while on campus will not be permitted to speak at the University in the future.”