University cancels Muslim cleric’s talk

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University of Liverpool © at Wikipedia Creative Commons

University of Liverpool © at Wikipedia/Creative Commons

A Liverpool university talk by a Muslim scholar has been cancelled after students threatened to protest over his views on gay relationships.

Islamic cleric Mufti Ismail Menk was due to give a talk at the University of Liverpool’s Guild of Students on Tuesday this week, as part of a UK university tour organised by the Tayyibun Insitute, a London-based religious school.

The University of Liverpool’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT+) committee said it would protest if the talk went ahead, after it emerged that the cleric had described gay sex as “acts of immorality” in a video uploaded to YouTube in June.

Zahid Rehman, President of the University’s Islamic Society, said: “Academic freedom and freedom of speech are both vital for the function of all open institutions, which are only effective as long as they do not compromise peaceful debate or promote unlawful behaviour.”

Mr Rehman said that the relationships between the Islamic Society and other societies on campus needed to be developed, but members of the community should be able to tolerate differences respectfully and address concerns only through properly established means.

The LGBT+ committee said that the protest was not aimed at the Islamic Society or Islam as a faith, as every individual is free to practice whatever faith that they wish, provided that it does not impinge on the freedoms and happiness of others.

Writing on the Tayyibyn Institute’s Facebook page, the Zimbabwean cleric Mr Menk said: “I am very disturbed at being labelled a hate preacher by gay rights activists. The truth is I have never promoted hatred, violence or intolerance against gays or any others for that matter.

“We still promote peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and tolerance and shall continue to do so, even in the face of untrue, hurtful, defaming comments by some, based on an OLD comment taken out of context.”

Mufti Menk’s UK university tour has now been cancelled until further notice.

About Shannyn Quinn, JMU Journalism