University of Kent blocks talk from anti-gay preacher who labelled homosexuality ‘a scourge’

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A homophobic imam who claimed that homosexuality is a ‘scourge’ has reportedly been banned from speaking at the University of Kent.

Anti-gay imam Haitham al-Haddad had been due to speak to students from the Kent Union Islamic Society in Canterbury on March 4, as part of Discover Islam week.

The preacher has made a number of homophobic comments – penning an article titled ‘Standing up against Homosexuality and LGBTs’ in which he speaks against “the scourge of homosexuality”, which he labels a “criminal act”.

As well as his remarks about gay people, the imam has made anti-Semitic comments, claimed men should be allowed to beat their wives, and is a strong supporter of female genital mutilation.

According to student newspaper The Tab, the talk was reportedly blocked by the Vice Chancellor of the University – forcing the event to be scrapped.

A statement from the Islamic Society said: “The university has taken the decision to postpone the event. We apologise unreservedly for any inconvenience caused.

“We made every effort to try make this event take place. Hopefully we will be able to benefit from the expertise of the speaker in future.

“Please be advised we have events due to take place in the remainder of the week and hope you will all be able to join us.”

Natacha Woodcock, of the University of Kent Jewish Society, told the Tab: “Different members of the Jewish Society have different opinions on this matter.

“Personally, I welcomed the ‘Discover Islam Week’. I was surprised al-Haddad was invited, and I’m relieved his talk did not take place in the end.

“I believe in free speech, but there’s a difference between free speech simpliciter and granting someone the apparent legitimacy of a lecture hall.

“Haitham al-Haddad’s misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic views do not, in my opinion, belong on campus. It could have harmed the welfare of female students, LGBT students, Jewish students, and the many moderate Muslim students would have been (without being asked) represented by an extremist.”

The University of Kent could not be reached for comment.

The move follows a decision last month by the University of Westminster to postpone a talk from al-Haddad.