If you found out that your child’s school was inviting a prominent BNP member, someone who had been targeted by a Hope not Hate campaign perhaps, to come and give a talk about community relations or the science of race you’d probably worry. There would certainly be outraged articles about such an appalling event in the Guardian.
But no one (much) seems too bothered about the fact that Haitham al-Haddad spoke last night as part of a Discover Islaam Week at Leyton sixth form college on the topic ‘Does Islam oppress women?’. Here is a taste of Haddad’s views on this topic:
Despite the countless studies and research that has been conducted into the breakdown of society in general and the family unit in particular, all of which demonstrate that Western notions of female success have played a significant role in that breakdown, many Muslim women aspire to the very lifestyle that the West is now suffering the consequences of and recoiling from.
If she is a married woman the Qur’an would praise her as a wife, supporting her husband and being dutiful to him. If she is a mother, the Qur’an would praise her for her important role as a nurturer of the next generation. I have not witnessed the Qur’an praising any woman for her contribution outside of this framework. For example, we don’t see the Qur’an praising a woman for her political involvement, da’wah activism, level of knowledge, social engagement or even leadership. This article cannot possibly include the stories of all women mentioned in the Qur’an, but a simple analysis should confirm this finding.
Haddad’s repellent views in relation to homosexuality, fgm and antisemitism have been widely discussed in previous posts here of course.
Hasan Afzal, director of the anti-extremism monitoring group StandforPeace, who was alerted to the visit by a concerned Muslim attending the mosque, said: “I understand the mosque is looking to expand and this has been a bone of contention with the local community and has attracted the ire of far-right groups, including the English Defence League.
“We feel that the mosque owes the citizens of Cambridge, Muslim or non-Muslim, a duty of care to ensure that these kinds of preachers are not welcome to their mosque.”
The mosque’s response was rather feeble (particularly as Haddad’s name was in fact posted on their website) and makes no real attempt to distance itself from Haddad’s views, although there is at least a vague implication that his visit was suboptimal.
Hicham Kwieder, a member of the mosque’s committee, said: “We were not aware that he was a speaker at the event. We allowed the students to use the mosque and there were a number of speakers.
“We did think the students should have been more aware of who they ask as speaker.”
Another response was more robust:
Ahsan Mohammed, a Newmarket Muslim leader, said: “I am torn in that I want freedom of speech and think that is what makes Britain great but when the views are bonkers and dangerous we have to draw the line somewhere.”
I mentioned Hope not Hate earlier, and of course they have targeted Haddad although they are more usually associated with campaigns against the BNP and the EDL. Although HnH may occasionally perhaps make one go – HuH? – it’s good that they are trying to tackle all kinds of extremism. Apparently those responding to its recent survey supported, by 12-1, HnH’s decision to target Islamist extremism as well as the more usual far-right suspects. This is particularly interesting when one considers that most of these respondents will, like me, have started supporting HnH before it really turned its attention to such matters – their original motive will have been (probably) a concern about the BNP. It’s far more difficult battling two (ostensibly opposed) enemies at once – but it’s got to be done.
Hat Tip: Student Rights and Hasan Afzal