Open letter to the CSC: you were wrong to allow Kamal El Mekki speak on campus

comment1Dear Central Societies Committee,

On February 25th, you allowed Trinity College to play host to the radical Islamic preacher Kamal El Mekki. As a former Muslim, I am outraged that a man who is an advocate for the killing of former Muslims was not only invited by a student society but deliberately allowed by the CSC to speak freely at this university.

On February 24th, myself and a number of other students became aware that the Muslim Students Association had invited Kamal El Mekki to speak, and although initially receiving support from the Students’ Union in our hopes of getting the event cancelled, the CSC were far less helpful. This YouTube clip was provided as evidence of Kamal El Mekki’s advocacy of the killing of former Muslims, yet a representative from the CSC decided that the video did not prove the advocacy. The CSC decided the video was merely “explanatory” and not “advocatory”. The CSC representative declared that Kamal El Mekki did not pose any threat to the welfare or safety of students. The representative chose to let the event go ahead without consulting any of the students who complained about the event, especially the students who are vulnerable former Muslims.

Instead, the representative compared the content discussed in the video to a situation in which a Christian preacher were to discuss a passage from the bible, Leviticus 20:10. This passage outlines how a man and woman who commit adultery should both be sentenced to death, and the representative stated that it is ‘no different from a Jew or a Christian being asked if there is a Biblical basis for executing those committing adultery’. The fact that this representative thinks that these situations are in any way comparable is absurd. The representative has chosen to completely disregard any social or political context that the contents of the video might be affected by. For instance, just this week a man in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to death for abandoning the Muslim faith. The same is not happening in the world today when Christians commit adultery.

These two situations are not in any way comparable.

To that representative: you do not understand, and have not even tried to imagine, just how dangerous it would be for someone who is a former Muslim to attend the event and express their opinions. The reason this open letter is being written anonymously is because I have genuine fear that someone like this has been welcomed in to the university. You closed the argument of whether or not Kamal El Mekki should be allowed to speak at the college without any discussion or consultation with the students who expressed their wishes for the event to be cancelled.

Nick Griffin’s invitation to speak at Trinity was withdrawn when several students and staff brought up their concerns about the event. Mr. Griffin poses less of a threat to students than Kamal El Mekki, yet the CSC deemed it was acceptable for the Sheikh to be given a platform. I agree that publicly arguing or protesting against people you disagree with but only when personal safety can be a guarantee. It certainly would not be safe for a former Muslim to engage with the speaker and express their opinions and beliefs. I don’t think you’re fully aware of the severity of the situation.

The level of contempt and ignorance shown on the part of the CSC when they closed the discussion on this subject and allowed the event to go ahead is offensive. Based on the CSC’s response, I now believe that it implicitly supports radical Islam and the facilitation of these vile views. By giving Kamal El Mekki a platform, the CSC have unintentionally condoned the barbaric brand of Islam he promotes. I firmly believe that the CSC and Trinity should be taking a strong stance against radicalism and ensure that similar events do not take place in the future.



Note: Although the SU president initially supported the cancelling of the event, since the CSC ruling the union has remained silent on the issue despite multiple attempts at contacting them. While attempting to contact the SU for a response, I also tried to get the University Times, whose editor is also the communications officer of the SU, to publish my open letter to the CSC condemning the ruling on the event.

The University Times refused to publish the open letter for two reasons: firstly, because UT does not publish material “simultaneously published elsewhere”, and, secondly, UT did not believe that the “severity” of the issue warranted anonymity in the “context of everything else”.

To refute both objections: firstly, I did not attempt to publish the open letter anywhere else, or make any suggestion to that and, secondly, UT in the past has published various articles where the author’s identity was not revealed, including this one on the accommodation crisis. Now, I am by no means underestimating the severity of the accommodation crisis, but for my name to be published would put my life at a real risk.

Although UT retains a right not to publish everything and anything, based on their response I cannot understand the objection. For a university to offer a platform to a man who advocates my slaughter, and then for UT to deny my criticism of this, leaves me deeply disappointed.