Next Wednesday, Muhammed ibn Adam Al Kawthari will be at the University of York, hosted by the Islamic Society as part of their 'Islam Awareness Week'. Al Kawthari is a vile man with abhorrent views.
A Civitas report notes of al-Kawthari:
"He places severe restrictions on male doctors treating female patients; he rules that women may not swim (even for medical reasons) where a male lifeguard is present, or where there are non-Muslim women; using tampons is 'disliked' (makruh-a classification in shari'a law); a woman may not travel beyond 48 miles without her husband or a close relative accompanying her; a female is encouraged to remain within the confines of her house as much as possible; polygamy is permissible. If anyone were to ridicule polygamy, he would become an unbeliever; it is a grave sin for a woman to refuse sex to her husband; it is forbidden to have close, intimate relations with or have love for non-Muslims; Muslims are not to sit, eat, live or mingle with them; the legal punishment for adultery is stoning."
Al-Kawthari recommends that if someone has sexual intercourse outside of marriage, the punishment should vary from a hundred lashes to death by stoning. Al-Kawthari also legitimises and vindicates rape within marriage - he has stated: "The narrations of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) clearly signify the importance of the wife obeying her husband in his request for sexual intimacy. It will be a grave sin (in normal circumstances) for the wife to refuse her husband, and even more, if this leads the husband into the unlawful."
This hate preacher is part of the Darul Iftaa, based in Leicester. Their website issues fatwas, and has been described by Civitas as being part of a network of sharia courts in Britain. The same Civitas report notes that similar places for fatwa rulings in the UK have demanded that homosexuals should be beaten. While it is impossible to know for sure what it is that many of these rulings state, as they are decided behind closed doors, and whether the Darul Iftaa in Leicester espouses such views; in our opinion this answer from al-Kawthari website, cited in the Civitas report, suggests a sinister truth:
"Question: The questioner is about to start a career in law. Someone has told him that most aspects of English law would be forbidden to him to practise. Could he/she defend people of crimes (irrespective of guilt), and could they advocate rights for people such as homosexuals?
Answer: One should not help defend someone who is guilty of a crime. One must not help others gain a right prohibited by sharia or disapproved of by it. ‘When practicing law, one must do so within the limits of Shariah. As such, one is not allowed to advocate rights that are incompatible with Islam, such as recovering interest money and fighting for the rights of homosexual and/or lesbians.’"
Al-Kawthari recommends that the legal punishment for theft is amputation: "The penalty for the one who steals (when the above conditions are met) is that his/her right arm is amputated. If a person steals a second time, his left foot is amputated; if a third time, then he will be imprisoned until he repents, but no further amputation will take place."
Half a dozen student societies on the University of York campus are outraged that this hate speaker has been invited, and together with StandforPeace, the Muslim and Jewish anti-Islamist extremism organisation with which I work, students of all religious and political persuasions are determined to publicly state that we will not tolerate such intolerance in our university.
It is of course entirely possible that members of the Islamic Society were unaware of al-Kawthari's beliefs, but as yet they have neither replied to enquiries nor signified their intention to cancel the invitation. I fear that there are inflammatory and seditious persons within the society. Only last month, Hamza Tzortzis was invited to speak. This is a man who was a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and is linked to the hardline Hittin Institute and the IERA, the latter of which has been described as an umbrella organisation for extremists who preach hatred against homosexuals and Jews. Harry's Place cross-posted an excellent article on Tzortzis
What is so terrible, and yet sadly not surprising, is that many of those who claim the premise of their politics is liberalism consistently refuse to condemn such hateful rhetoric, and additionally deny that an extremist problem even exists in British universities. We would suggest otherwise
The responses from local Labour and Liberal Democrat representatives attests to this. Both of the persons in question are good people, and so I will not name them. Nevertheless their reasons for not wanting to get involved are sickening to both the Muslim and Jewish students with whom we work, who are fighting hate speech and extremism every day, all across the country
Such members of political parties - who are too frightened, or too much in denial, to stand up and state with absolute moral clarity that al-Kawthari is a repugnant individual - are failing the very liberal values they claim to espouse, which compels them to condemn that which is wrong and assist with that which is good.
The response from the Labour representative reads as follows: "It's because personally I'm not sure - and as chair I would ultimately have to defend the decision in future. I don't want to have to end up defending something I don't agree with."
Extraordinary! What possible moral trepidation could someone have about condemning a person who vindicates rape and preaches the importance of amputating the hands of thieves?
The Liberal Democrat answer was equally ridiculous, and I was told that they would not commit to joining the chorus of voices condemning al-Kawthari because of 'freedom of speech'. A coward's answer! This is not a freedom of speech issue; it is however, a decency issue. It is indecent to invite such a speaker in the first place, and it is indecent to give him the oxygen of publicity. Truly, what possible dilemma with freedom of expression do they struggle when asked to condemn homophobia, misogyny and barbarism? Such freedoms don't just guarantee us a right to speak out; they necessitate a duty for us to do so.
Not all have failed us however. Muslim, Jewish and other students from half a dozen student societies - all with a far more lucid comprehension of right and wrong - have backed our call for the Union to condemn the speaker and his views, and publicly urge the Islamic Society to cancel the event or change the speaker.
Help us! Contact the student union or university, who both have failed to acknowledge our concerns, and inform them of al-Kawthari and explain why he is so abhorrent. Ring them now, or is it that you also have become too liberal to condemn stoning?
Student Union (ask for student activities officer): +44 (0)1904 32 3724
University of York Press Office: +44 (0)1904 32 2622