Controversy erupted at the University of Nottingham this week after two speakers who have previously voiced hardline homophobic views were invited to speak as part of ‘Discover Islam Week’.
The controversy has not focused on the speakers however, but instead on student journalists who attempted to challenge them. Students from the Tab news site questioned the notorious Uthman Lateef and Yusuf Chambers on their public statements, approaching members of the university’s LGBT Network for comment.
Instead of protesting the views of the speakers, the LGBT Network joined with the Islamic Society in condemning the journalists for trying “to provoke an antagonistic atmosphere“. The Islamic Society President added: “such attacks were problematic and contributed to a sense of marginalisation and discomfort towards many Muslim students on campus.“
Campus extremism watchdog ‘Student Rights’ quotes various examples of homophobic statements from the two speakers. Lateef has in the past stated: “we don’t accept homosexuality…we hate it because Allah hates it.”
Chambers has also called for the death penalty for homosexuality, saying: “homosexuality is forbidden in Islam and the punishment for homosexuality is death”.
Commenting on the decision to condemn the journalists, Rupert Sutton from the Student Rights group said: “If student societies are going to invite speakers with a history of homophobia they should expect to face scrutiny regardless of their religion or political affiliation. Students must be able to challenge intolerant views when they appear on campus, and this statement’s attacks on attempts to do so are deeply troubling. This is all the more important where student press freedoms are concerned, and we hope that these criticisms will be withdrawn”.
The University of Nottingham has not yet commented on the matter.