Wednesday, August 4News For London

Islamic Society postpones controversial preacher in light of “Jihadi John” identification

The Islamic Society (ISOC) at Westminster University has stated it has no connection with Mohammed Emwazi, widely known as “Jihadi John.” Talk postponed by a controversial Islamic preacher. By Alex Leonards and Danae Diz

photoThe student society, which was  due to hold a talk by controversial “homophobic” speaker Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad, assured fellow students they had no connection with “Jihadi John”. The Society added that they were not connected to any extremist groups and it “should be obvious and not need stating, but given the climate, it has become necessary to clarify such things in statements such as this.”

Infamous British IS member Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John”, graduated from The University of Westminster  in 2009 with a degree in Computer Science. But ISOC has clarified that it has no connection with “Jihadi John.”

It adds that Emwazi finished his degree before the majority of ISOC members had completed their GCSEs, therefore “the ISOC has nothing to do with this individual.”

Islamic Society of the University of Westminster postpone controversial Muslim speaker after the identification of “Jihadi John”

The identification of “Jihadi John” was made on the same day Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad planned to speak at the university’s Little Titchfield campus in central London. Al-Haddad was scheduled to give a talk titled “Who is Muhammad” about the prophet Muhammad and his teachings.

The event was organised by the Student’s Union at the university as an expression of freedom of speech. But his previous article expressing “homophobic” views caused anger among some members of the Student Union and LGBTI society.

The article titled “Standing up against Homosexuality and LGBTs”, which circulated on social media, , encompasses clear anti-gay sentiments. He has opposed  gay marriage and condoned the criminalisation of homosexuality. In light of this, the LGBTI society put together a petition against the talk which was signed by over 3,000 students.

The event was scheduled to take place one day before the university welcomes National Student Pride for the second year. Due to this, the LGBTI society emphasised their opposition to the content and timing of the talk.

“ How is it possible to create a safe space for thousands of LGBT students if an anti-gay preacher is allowed on campus a day before?” the LGBTI society said in a statement.

ISOC also added:

“We also regret the timing of this story breaking, given that the media fervour around it directly led to the event scheduled for this evening, “Who is Muhammad ” to be postponed, with the event having been ready to go ahead.”

But the university administration asserts that the university promotes free speech. 

Tanya Kynaston, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing, speaking before the identification of Emwazi, said in a statement to Westminster World:

“It would be unrealistic to say that the reactions are not testing the university’s commitment to its values – this is challenging but not negative, and we hope that in due course, we can extend opportunities for an exchange of views, no matter how difficult this currently appears to be.”

Westminster University reassures safety for staff and students

The university has reassured safety for both staff and students stating that Emwazi left the university six years ago.”We have students from 150 countries and their safety is of paramount concern.

“If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

It adds: “With other universities in London, we are working to implement the Government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism.”

A pastoral team and hotline for support and advice has been set up for any concerned students or staff.

Further information from the university can be found here.