Who approved Haitham Al-Haddad to speak at the University of Westminster?
Haitham al-Haddad was formerly on the iERA’s board of advisors. He describes Jews as “apes and pigs” and “enemies of God”, quotes the famous anti-semitic foregery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and speaks of a “conflict” between Muslim and Jews. Recently, Haddad has claimed that terrorist atrocities, such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the rise of Islamic State are conspiracies organised by Western powers.
In addition, Haddad believes that cases of domestic abuse should not be investigated; that peaceful co-existence between people of different religions “is wrong”; that female genital mutilation is “sunnah” [religiously correct]; and that suicide bombing “is permissible”. Haddad has also argued that the Japanese tsunami was divine retribution for Japan’s “lack of submission to Allah”, and has urged Muslims to “fight everyone until they establish the law of Allah”. Any system of law other than Sharia, he argues, “is invalid”.
LGBT students in London are protesting Haddad’s lecture. In a petition posted online, they have noted Haddad’s hatred for homosexuality, which he describes as a “scourge” and a “criminal act”. Haddad has also applauded the Liberian government’s decision in 2012 to criminalise homosexuality.
Following the well-documented problem of extremist speakers on university campuses, the University of Westminster claims to follow a stringent process of approval for “external speakers”.
Who, then, approved Haitham Al-Haddad, known for his notorious anti-semitism and hatred for homosexuals and non-Muslims, to speak before students at the University?
According to the Student Union, speakers are vetted by the “Interfaith Advisor” Yusuf Kaplan (a.k.a. Nicholas Kaplan).
Kaplan, before working at the University of Westminster, was previously a “Dawah Project Coordinator” at the Al-Muntada Trust, one of Britain’s most extreme Salafist charities, which itself frequently promotes anti-gay and anti-Jewish preachers.
According to the New Statesman, the Al Muntada Trust is “a Saudi-funded ‘charity’ … [that] sees its mission as propagating a Wahhabist version of Islam.” Al Muntada has hosted speakers such as Ismail Menk, who has said of homosexuals: “With all due respect to the animals, they are worse than those animals, may Allah protect us. Remember, we are saying here due respect to the animals, because animals, it is an insult to them to even suggest this to them”; as well as Murtaza Khan, who advocates the death penalty for homosexuality.
As well as having a long history of promoting and providing a platform for some of the most virulent Islamist hate preachers, the Al Muntada Trust stands accused of direct links to the Nigerian terrorist organisation Boko Haram, which recently made headlines after kidnapping 276 schoolgirls and murdering up to 300 people.
Yusuf Kaplan, as well as working as the Interfaith Advisor for the University of Westminster, also appears to serve as a Chaplain for students across London’s universities.
In 2014, Kaplan signed a letter on behalf of the Westminster Islamic Society reminding its members not to physically attack other students during debates.
The University has defended its approval of Haitham Al-Haddad as a guest speaker, stating: “The University is committed to maintaining freedom of speech and a diversity of views as set out in the Education Act 1986. As a diverse community of local and international students of many faiths, respect and tolerance is our foremost concern and we will be monitoring the event carefully and any student concerns.”
Stand for Peace calls on the University to examine Yusuf Kaplan’s connections to extremist groups and for Yusuf Kaplan to clarify his own views.