In 2010, Cambridge’s Islamic Society invited Azzam Tamimi to speak. Tamimi is a supporter of Hamas, who in 2004 told the BBC that he would become a suicide bomber if he “had the opportunity”, describing self-sacrifice for Palestine as “a noble cause”.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right French part, Front National, addressed the Cambridge Union in February 2013.
Timothy Winter, Director of Studies (Theology and Religious Studies) at Wolfson College, and Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge, attracted controversy in May 2013 due to a video of him describing homosexuality as “an inexplicable aberration” and “inherently ugly”. Winter claimed that the videos were over 15 years old and the statements he made then no longer represent his views on the matter. However, this claim has been challenged, as videos from a similar retreat in Turkey from 2011 have appeared on YouTube. In a piece on Winter’s website, he describes homosexuality as a “metaphysical as well as a moral crime.”
Cambridge has partnered with the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF), which has provided funding for a fellowship at the university. One of the Trustees of the IHF is Vahid Alaghband, who is also the Foundation’s chairman and a co-founder. He is also founder and Chairman of Balli Group, and Ango-Iranian trading conglomerate responsible for “maintaining tight commercial and diplomatic ties between Iran and the West.” In 2008, the Balli Group was issued with a Temporary Denial Order by the US Department of Commerce after it “knowingly re-exported three US-origin aircraft to Iran in violation of the Export Administration Regulations.” Mr. Alaghband is also a major donor and “ambassador” of the PARSA Community Foundation, a grant-awarding entity whose principal beneficiaries include the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). The NIAC is frequently referred to in Iran’s state-run media as the “Iranian lobby” in the US, has many close connections with the clerical regime, and is a leading opponent of the economic sanctions currently imposed on Iran.