Islamic cleric tours Britain unchallenged

January 9, 2016 7:52 am

 Fadel Soliman speaks on how the Koran advises men to discipline their wives using a small stick. Photo / YouTube

An Islamic cleric who defends domestic violence is among a string of
extremist speakers touring British universities unchallenged, the Mail Investigations Unit can reveal.
Egyptian
cleric Fadel Soliman spoke at five such events last year, using them to
refer Muslim students to an online lecture series in which he speaks in
favour of hitting women and outlines the Islamic case for sex slavery
and polygamy.
Mr Soliman told students at Sheffield University that watching his lectures could be “a turning point” in their lives.
In
his extraordinary videos, he advises physical punishment for wives who
have displeased their husbands, saying “the hitting must be done with a
small stick”.
Explaining why it is necessary, he says that when a
husband is unhappy with the behaviour of his wife, that “after passing
through two stages of non-physical interaction, the next stage must
involve something physical, in order to escalate the intensity of the
warning”.

The preacher is one of several extremists being permitted to
espouse their views unchallenged at Britain’s universities – in possible
breach of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy, Prevent. Since
September, universities and colleges are legally required to have
policies to stop extremists radicalising students on campus. This
includes an obligation to “ensure those espousing extremist views do not
go unchallenged”.
The Mail revealed yesterday how CAGE –
the notorious organisation which called Islamic State killer Jihadi John
‘a beautiful young man’ – has participated in at least 13 university
events since September, calling on students to sabotage Prevent.
Another
group, MEND, an Islamist organisation whose director has condoned the
killing of British troops, appeared in at least ten events on campuses
across the country last term.
And a speaker from an organisation
which mocked last year’s Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris spoke at a
student event despite having being refused permission, using the
platform to tell students the State was “fundamentally racist” and they
should oppose Prevent.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the
revelations show universities need to do more to stop ‘damaging,
extremist rhetoric’ going unchallenged on campuses.
Up to 19
universities where the Mail identified extremist-linked speakers or
events could now face an inquiry by the Higher Education Funding Council
for England, it is understood.
Lord Carlile, one of Britain’s
top legal experts, said last night that universities that allowed Mr
Soliman to speak unchallenged had “failed in their duty of care”. He
said: “This is a person who has given at least tacit approval to what
sounds like criminal behaviour. Universities really should not be
permitting people like this on to their campuses.”
Mr Soliman is
thought to have spoken at Nottingham, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester and
Sheffield. He urged young Muslims to watch his disturbing 30-part video
series endorsing a series of violent and extreme practices.
In
one, he suggests it is acceptable for a man to hit his wife, if she
repeatedly “goes out and refuses to say where she’s going”. He says:
“The hitting must be done with a small stick” and “should not be
painful”, adding: “The true implication of the spanking is to sound an
alarm that the husband has passed to a new stage of serious
displeasure.”
In another video he says it is forbidden for men
and women to “engage in frivolous talk”, that “men and women should
lower their gaze and avoid unnecessary eye contact, especially with
lust”. He says Muslims should avoid interacting with members of the
opposite sex, even at work, and women should not wear perfume as it
“arouses men”. In other videos, he outlines the Islamic case for sex
slavery and polygamy.
At an event at the University of Sheffield
on December 3, Mr Soliman urged 120 Muslim students: “Put these videos
on your Facebook pages, share it with people.” He was also allowed to
speak at the University of Manchester last month, despite concerns being
raised by university staff. At the event, the cleric said: “They told
me not to say anything controversial.”
Mr Soliman denies he
supports domestic violence. He said: “I have provided the Mail with a
detailed response to the allegations which are published in this article
and informed them in detail why I am not guilty of the things which
they allege against me. Once the paper is published, I will respond to
the allegations on my own website.”
He has a strong following
among young female students. The Sheffield event – which was not
formally segregated but at which men and women sat on opposite sides of
the hall – had an audience of more than 100 students, mostly female.
Beforehand,
groups of young women could be heard discussing how much they “love” Mr
Soliman – even making swooning gestures and fanning themselves. One
woman in her early 20s, who travelled from London, told others how
excited she was to see the cleric in person.
Another organisation
allowed to speak unchallenged at recent university events is MEND – a
radical Islamist group that has been associated with a number of
extremist statements. MEND’s head of community development, Azad Ali,
has suggested the killing of British troops can be justified.
He
has also said that the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which a gang of Islamist
militants slaughtered more than 160, were “not terrorism” and that
implementing Sharia law was more important than democracy.
Last
year MEND supported hardline Indian preacher Zakir Naik – who claims
that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” – calling on the Government to
revoke a ban on him travelling to the . Despite this, it was
permitted to host ten university events last term.
At one
MEND-linked event, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas),
University of London, speakers suggested the treatment of Muslims was
akin to Jews under the Nazis. They also suggested IS had been created by
“power structures” in the West. One speaker, Sahar Al Faifi said: “It’s
within their interest to fuel Islamophobia. It’s within their interest
to sell more weapons. It’s within their interest to make the Middle East
unstable.” These views went unchallenged at the event, entitled Muslim
Women In The West.
Another group given platforms at student
events is the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). It is notorious
for bestowing an ‘Islamophobes of the Year’ award on the murdered staff
of Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Like CAGE and MEND, IHRC has
been involved in the Students Not Suspects university movement, which
campaigns against Prevent. An advocate of IHRC, Lena Mohamed, was
invited to lead a talk at Soas in September, where she encouraged
students to sabotage counter-extremism measures at universities.
At
an event in Manchester, Mrs Mohamed denied extremism was an issue at
universities and said the State was “fundamentally racist”. Yesterday a
Soas spokesman said the school was confident it upheld its duties under
Prevent, adding: “We provide a forum for speakers who … represent
different viewpoints. We encourage open debate and aim to create an
atmosphere where all perspectives can be aired and challenged.”
MEND
said there had “never been any substantiated links” between it and
extremism “and all allegations to the contrary are false”. It denied it
had any role in organising the Muslim Women In The West event at Soas.
IHRC
said: “Our opposition to Prevent is well documented and our views are
shared by many individuals and organisations, from unions, teachers,
lecturers, students, lawyers and academics to some politicians. As a
human rights organisation, we support everyone’s rights, regardless of
whether we agree with them.”

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