Islamic student group accuses UEL of ‘victimisation’ over segregated dinner
13:01 02 May 2014
EXCLUSIVE: A campus Islamic Society has complained of “victimisation” after its university cancelled a dinner event that was advertised as segregated by gender.
The University of East London’s Isoc claimed the segregation, which would have meant separate seating for men and women, was advertised by mistake due to a printing error by an external company.
However, it defended the policy on its Twitter feed with the hashtag “SegregationIsNotHate”, and said the hastily re-arranged April 17 dinner went ahead in a North London mosque with segregated seating.
An Isoc spokesman said: “We are very disappointed that the university did a U-turn less than 24 hours prior to the event.
“They listened to external right-wing groups rather then listen to their own students.”
He added: “It’s a sad day when a university with one of the highest proportion of Muslim students begins to victimise them.”
The university rejected the accusations, saying it acted swiftly to enforce its Equality and Diversity policy after receiving complaints about the 2,500 flyers and the billed speakers.
Dusty Amroliwala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UEL, said: “I reject any idea that we are ‘victimising’ or ‘unfairly scrutinising’ the Society. UEL has a proud record of defending democracy, promoting free speech and intellectual curiosity.
“But we cannot allow enforced segregation at lectures, nor can we offer a public platform to speakers who are known to preach extreme messages that could constitute a hate crime.”
He added: “We would have come to the same conclusion had this been any another society, religious or otherwise, where the circumstances had been the same.”
UEL was also concerned about speaker Murtaza Khan, who has been filmed referring to “filthy non-Muslim doctors”, but approved his attendance after he apologised for the remarks, which he called “damaging to community relations”.
However, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell alerted UEL to another video that shows Mr Khan saying homosexuals should be killed.
Mr Amroliwala said: “The suggestion that certain groups of people should be thrown off a mountain or stoned is language that incites hatred and cannot be condoned.
“The only reasonable and appropriate decision was to withdraw the university’s facilities from being used to support this event.”
He added that UEL has not received any complaints from the Isoc.