A prominent Islamic scholar’s UK university tour has been cancelled due to his views on homosexuality.
Mufti Ismail Menk from Zimbabwe was scheduled to visit six universities – Oxford, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow – next week. But the tour was cancelled after student unions and university officials highlighted concerns about his views on homosexuality.
The world-renowned cleric, who studied in Saudi Arabia, has described same-sex acts as “filthy,” “wrong” and synonymous with “acts of immorality”. He has been recorded as saying: “With all due respect to the animals, (gay people) are worse than those animals.”
All of the universities listed on the tour stated that they had not officially invited Mufti Menk to speak. Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow University had already confirmed they would not be hosting him on campus.
The Zimbabwean cleric was thought to have been invited by the universities’ Islamic Societies (ISOCs). Glasgow University’s Muslim Association described the event as a “wonderful opportunity” on Facebook and Twitter.
Cardiff University ISOC changed its Facebook photo to a picture of Mufti Menk. University of Leicester’s ISOC described him as “entertaining, yet very pious” on its Facebook page. Leeds University ISOC withdrew its invitation three days ago after acknowledging his views.
The National Union of Students (NUS) said Mr Menk’s “reported comments are very concerning”. Ruth Hunt of Stonewall said: “Universities should always remain mindful that they have a duty to protect all of their students and to ensure balance in university discourse.”
The Tayyibun Institute, which was organising the tour, issued a statement saying: “It is our duty to promote peace, tolerance, equality and justice, acknowledging the presence of the diverse faiths and inclinations in our midst.”
Mufti Menk’s response
Mufti Menk’s response to the cancellation of his UK university tour is being circulated on Facebook. He said the following on his social media page:
“I am very disturbed by being labelled a hate preacher etc by gay rights activists. The truth is that I have never promoted hatred, violence or intolerance against gays or any others for that matter. I have worked hard to promote peace and tolerance which is evident from my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“Coming from Zimbabwe, I had not been exposed to gays, but travelling to the West has given me a better understanding of the situation. I have had the chance to meet up with some of them and even share a few jokes and discuss their point of view. They have explained to me how as time passes more people are understanding them from politicians to church leaders too. The only difference is with those who say Islam allows gay behaviour. That’s all.
“We still promote peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and tolerance and shall continue to do so even in the face of untrue, hurtful, defaming comments by some based on an OLD comment taken out of context.”
You can follow Mufti Ismail Menk on @muftimenk