The University Nottingham LGBT Society and Islamic Society (ISoc) have released a statement today condemning Nottingham Tab reporters for attempting to create an ‘antagonistic atmosphere’ between the LGBT Network and Islamic Society.
The Tab approached LGBT and Muslim students in order to obtain comments about two speakers with alleged homophobic views, that had been invited by Islamic Society as part of their Discover Islamic Week.
The two speakers questioned by the Tab Nottingham were Yusuf Chambers, who spoke at a talk titled ‘Islam 101; Everything you need to know’ on Monday 3rd March and Dr Uthman Lateef, who spoke at a talk titled ‘Paradigm of Justice’.
Students present at the event told Impact that it was suggested by reporters from the media organisation that these speakers were previously responsible for inciting hatred and encouraging homophobia. Tab reporters were also said to have sought to gauge responses from LGBT Network and Muslim students at the University.
“There has been a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks on Muslim students in general”.
Lucy Wake, LGBT Campaigns Officer, told Impact that the Tab reporters asked “some [LGBT] members…whether they agreed with the homophobic rhetoric of the speakers during the event”.
One Muslim student said of one Tab reporter: “[They] wanted to know my opinion on the homosexuality issue as a member of ISoc, and gave me a back story on Dr Uthman Lateef before doing so”.
Shabina Raja, NUS Black Students’ Campaign Committee Member and member of ISoc, told Impact that she was concerned by the fact that “when Tab reporters were asking Muslim students for comments, they did not explain who they were”. She also claimed: “Nationally there has been a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks on Muslim students in general, which are driven by groups like Student Rights”.
“It is sad and deplorable that such smear tactics were used”.
In light of the allegations made by the Tab Nottingham, Dr. Uthman told ISoc: “It is sad and deplorable that such smear tactics were used even in an event whose topic sought to allay antagonisms”.
A Tab reporter also approached both speakers at the end of the events and asked them questions about their views. The Islamic Society state that even though “both speakers initially welcomed [the questions], it was very apparent that questions were being asked only to provoke certain responses”.
“It was an attempt to provoke an antagonistic atmosphere between the two groups”.
The LGBT Network and Islamic Society claim that the allegations made by the Tab were simply not true and regard their questioning as “an attempt to provoke an antagonistic atmosphere between the two groups”.
“There was no threat to safety…sexual orientation and gender identity were [also not] discussed”.
Lucy Wake said: “Our main priority is to ensure the safety of LGBT Students at the University of Nottingham, but in this instance, there was no threat to safety…sexual orientation and gender identity were [also not] discussed [at these talks].
There have been cases with religious societies where we have not been able to comfortably support and publicise events due to a speaker’s attitude towards sexuality, but when this happens our committees engage in an active dialogue and the experience has always been positive. In this case, I personally feel as though the Islamic Society has been unduly targeted”.
“The Islamic Society feels like our guests and speakers have been unfairly targeted”.
Mohammad Fageir, ISoc President commented: “The Islamic Society feels like our guests and speakers have been unfairly targeted. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia, we hope that those involved may understand why such attacks were problematic and contributed to a sense of marginalisation and discomfort towards many Muslim students on campus”.
“Both groups have actively coexisted for years without conflict, and will continue to do so in spite of any attempts to cause a rift between us”, added Nayaab Sattar, Discover Islam Week Co-ordinator.