The Islamic Society (ISoc) and the LGBT Network at the University of Nottingham would like to voice our disappointment and concern in hearing that Tab reporters have been approaching individuals from the LGBT Network in an attempt to provoke an antagonistic atmosphere between the two groups.
As part of Discover Islam Week, the Islamic society had been hosting a number of events to encourage a greater understanding of Islam both within the university and the wider society in Nottingham.
In a meeting with the SU, the list of speakers was discussed and purported allegations regarding Dr. Uthman Lateef and Yusuf Chambers were brought up. It was clearly agreed that neither speaker condoned a stance of inciting hatred. The two speakers have clarified their views in the past, and discarded any allegations of homophobia based on misquotations and out of context statements.
The Islamic Society has an open policy regarding attendance and questions. Although neither lecture explicitly discussed the topic of homosexuality, in both cases, a student journalist personally approached the speakers after the Q&A session and launched a series of open questions about their views. Both speakers initially welcomed this, as it gave them a chance to clarify any misconceptions about it. However, it was very apparent that questions were being asked only to provoke certain responses in an attempt to invoke tensions between the LGBT network and the Islamic Society. Dr. Uthman commented, “It is sad and deplorable that such smear tactics were used even in an event whose topic sought to allay antagonisms.”
“Both groups have actively coexisted for years without conflict, and will continue to do so in spite of any attempts to cause a rift between us,” added Nayaab Sattar, the coordinator of the Discover Islam Week.
“Our main priority is to ensure the safety of LGBT Students at the University of Nottingham,” stated Lucy Wake, the Campaigns Officer of the LGBT Network, “but in this instance, there was no threat to safety and neither sexual orientation nor gender identity was discussed. Many of our members practice a religion and regularly attend ISoc events and, indeed, other events put on by religious networks. There have been cases with religious societies where we have not been able to comfortably support and publicise events due to a speaker’s attitude towards sexuality, but when this happens our committees engage in an active dialogue and the experience has always been positive. In this case, I personally feel as though the Islamic Society have been unduly targeted.”
Additionally, we would also like to voice our concerns regarding allegations that were sourced from articles produced by an organisation called “Student Rights”. Student Rights have now been officially condemned by five student unions. The credibility of Student Rights has been challenged on three main counts: first, its lack of transparency about its links to the right wing think tank “the Henry Jackson Society”; second, its lack of legitimacy given its track record of generating hostile press coverage about students as opposed to defending their rights; and third, the way this negative attention has focused overwhelmingly on Muslims.
Mohammad Fageir, ISoc President, commented, “The Islamic Society feels like our guests and speakers have been unfairly targeted. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia, we hope that those involved may understand why such attacks were problematic and contributed to a sense of marginalisation and discomfort towards many Muslim students on campus. We welcome discussion, debate, and even criticism, and warmly invite anyone with differing views to come to our events, or mosque, to clear any misconceptions either party may hold. However, we condemn unjustified accusations and attacks and simply ask that we be extended the same respect as all faith societies.”
We look forward to working with the Students’ Union and other student groups to ensure that ALL students, including Muslims and LGBT+ students, can learn, discuss and evolve without feeling attacked, harassed or discriminated against on our campuses.
For more information, please contact:
Jack Salter – LGBT Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
iERA – email@example.com