The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) have said complaints regarding a planned event featuring YouTuber Mohammed Hijab “came to the surface a mere two days before the planned date” in an online statement.
According to the MSA, they did not receive “any complaints directly regarding the event”, due to take place on March 3, except for a message from an unnamed S4C member that was “received after the decision had already been made to cancel the event”.
The statement claimed that the event was not cancelled “due to the complaints of a select group of students”, but rather “the necessary security could not be arranged given the time restraints”.
In a statement released to Trinity News on March 2, endorsed by QSoc and the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Gender Equality Officer activist group Students4Change (S4C) criticised the event due to Hijab’s “misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic views”.
Hasan Ali, president of the MSA, said that no complaints were made to the MSA regarding Hijab’s appearance in the almost four weeks between the event’s announcement and S4C releasing their statement.
The joint statement condemned Hijab’s view on the LGBTQ+ community and women. Hijab has reportedly stated in the past that “LGBTQ [is] a really powerful way for them to destroy their own civilisation from within” and that feminism “has harmed women”.
S4C also pointed out that Hijab has been linked to riots in England in which Hindus were violently targeted by a “Muslim patrol in Leicester”. According to S4C, “such an individual has no place at our College”.
The statement by MSA did not refute the statement’s accusations of homophobia, transphobia and connections to violence. In a previous statement to Trinity News, Ali noted that “Hijab was a highly demanded speaker within the College community”.
The MSA’s most recent statement criticised allegations by S4C that Hijab had “no credentials” as an academic, and that they found it “concerning” that he was being advertised as such.
According to the MSA and Hijab’s own website, he has a BA with second class honours in politics from the University of London, two Master’s degrees from the University of London, and a third Master’s in applied theology from the University of Oxford. Hijab is also currently pursuing his PhD, according to his website.
The MSA also claimed that Hijab has research and teaching experience at third level, citing his work as “a researcher and instructor” at the Sapience Institute. This is not a registered university or college in the UK, but is a self-described “non-governmental & nonprofit organisation” which aims to “provide a compelling, convincing case for Islam”.
Ali stated that “it is shocking and disappointing […] that groups at such a prestigious university failed so miserably at the most basic research”. He went on to say that they “attempt[ed] to damage the reputation of [the] MSA by suggesting that we represent speakers in a majorly false light” and that he believed the MSA has “been accused of lying”.
Students4Change replied to this most recent statement by the MSA in saying “their statement warrants no response” and that they “fully stand behind [their] actions to prevent a known homophobe, transphobe, and misogynist from speaking on campus”.
S4C claimed in their primary statement that they were “ready to escalate” their actions in the case of the speaker event going ahead – in response, the MSA furthered their view that they were excluded from any discussion about the future of the event.
“It makes us [the MSA] question why such extreme measures were being considered while excluding us entirely from conversations regarding our own event,” Ali told Trinity News, “I would like to reiterate my earlier statement as reported in the mentioned article that my “primary objective is to foster unity and peace within out college community”. This is certainly the case; however, this is impossible to achieve with such a dire lack of communication”.
Ali said in his statement: “This begs the question: is the TCDSU speaking to us or at us?”
TCDSU Gender Equality Officer Jenny Maguire did not offer comment in response to the statement.
TCDSU stated that they have “been liaising with the MSA and the Central Societies Committee [CSC] on this matter” since last Friday. They added that ”it would be preferable for that conversation to remain internal”, and did not comment further.
Ali suggested a “possible conspiracy to sabotage the event” and the complaint is “a manifestation of Islamophobia”. He claimed that the event could have gone ahead if these complaints were made earlier, or made directly to the MSA, owing to his belief that “security could have been organised” in order to safely hold the event between seven Islamic student-led societies.
Ali claimed that the “incident wasted the time, effort, and resources of both the College itself and its students”, and that “it has also brought to light the fact that some students at Trinity College are reluctant to approach us for any kind of conversation”.
The statement concluded in thanking “the Junior Dean [Professor Donall Mac Donaill] and his team for trying their level best to arrange security for the event”, as well as “Trinity News for reaching out to us [the MSA] in a timely manner to ensure our voice was heard.”