TCD Muslim Students’ Association criticised in Council of Ex Muslims of Britain publication

Trinity is one of three institutions looked at by the publication, the others being Goldsmiths University and the University of Warwick

NEWSTrinity College Dublin Muslim Students’ Association (TCDMSA) has come under fire by the Council of Ex Muslims of Britain (CEMB) organisation. The group has issued a publication entitled A Case Study of Islamism on Campus, which criticises TCDMSA alongside groups in  Goldsmiths University and the University of Warwick.

In a press release the CEMB says that “the Islamic Societies at the three universities in question are clearly promoting Islamist values through hate preachers who condone Sharia Law, Islamic states, and the death penalty for apostasy”.

The document criticises TCDMSA over its invitations to what the CEMB term “hate-preachers”, and “the existence of gender-specific committee roles and gender segregated events”. The document then goes on to profile five speakers who have been hosted by TCDMSA from 2006 to 2015, a period of almost a decade saying “these speakers, among others invited by the MSA, are notable for their homophobic and misogynistic views and for their support for the death penalty for those who leave Islam”.

Other than a YouTube clip of one event hosted by TCDMSA, the document does not contain any quotes or reports of what was said by speakers at these events. The YouTube clip depicts the speech of Adnan Rashid at Trinity in 2012 where he states it should be forbidden to insult the Prophet Muhammad or Islam.

The document does however include quotes from the speakers which it says provide evidence of their extremism. For example,  it cites a now-deleted quote from the website of Yusuf Estes – hosted in 2006 – which it says shows his belief in the death penalty for homosexuality and adultery.

The document includes quotes from Haitham al Haddad advocating stoning for men and women alongside encouraging jihad and female genital mutilation. Haitham al Haddas was hosted by TCDMSA in 2013.

CEMB also profile two speakers hosted separately by TCDMSA in February 2015. It says that one of these speakers, Kamal El Mekki, is “noted for his stance on apostasy in Islam; he believes that apostates of Islam should receive the death penalty”. At the time, Trinity News published an open letter to the Central Societies Committee written by a former Muslim in which the author stated that based on the CSC decision to allow the event to go forward they “now believe that [the CSC] implicitly supports radical Islam and the facilitation of these vile views”.

An event co-hosted by TCDMCA alongside Dublin Institute of Technology Islamic Society and Royal College of Surgeons Islamic Society in February featured speaker Muhammad Ibn Adam Al Kawthari.

Held in DIT Aungier Street the event was called Mr or Mrs Right, for which the Facebook event description reads: “Life is not meant to be lived alone. No matter how many friends and relatives you have, there is nothing like someone to grow old with”. CEMB asserts that he supports the stoning of adulterers, linking to a question answered by him where he states “I do not of course endorse the implementation of this law in places where people choose not to have it”.

The CEMB document asserts that the provision of gendered committee positions in TCDMSA, identified by a “brothers” or “sisters” signifier, “runs counter to TCD policy regarding gender equality”. It refers to the minutes of an AGM of the society held in 2014 and says that the most important job for the vice-president sisters “is to bring a smile to everyone’s faces!”.

The document continues saying that “the responsibilities of the Tarbiyah (Arabic: upbringing or education) Officers also vary according to gender. The male officer is regarded is as the “moral compass” of the committee, while the most distinctive role of the female officer is to “lobby for increased ‘sisters’ only classes”.

Looking at this transcript it appears that descriptions for the positions were written by those who held the position at the time. The position of president for example is also jokingly accompanied with the description “a dictator of sorts, but without the power and all of the responsibility”, while the position of vice-president brothers cites having good looks as being a plus.

Another position is described as being there “for the craic”. The description of the female Tarbiyah officer calls it a “monumental” position, and does not refer to any responsibility as being more distinctive than the others ascribed to that position.

On their website TCDMSA describe their aims as a society as contributing to the cultural and religious enrichment of the college, promoting unity and provide a support group for Muslim students, helping to bring awareness and educate members on aspects of Islam and to promote friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.

At November’s candle lit vigil for victims of terrorism in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and elsewhere, former TCDMSA vice-president Amr Dawood made a speech, including a verse from the Quran which called for human kind to live together and get to know each other, “saying yes to humanity”.

In an introduction to the document, CEMB focuses on the visits of its spokesperson Maryam Namazie (pictured above) to Trinity and other institutions. In March 2015  Namazie was invited to speak at College by Trinity’s Society for International Affairs.

The event was cancelled however after Namazie pulled out due to “last-minute conditions on her talk when concerns were raised by campus security about her presence ‘antagonising Muslim students'”, according to the CEMB publication. Namazie later spoke at a Phil event in October 2015.

The publication from CEMB ends by calling for an investigation by College authorities into those matters raised by it.

Both the TCDMSA and Central Societies Committee had not responded to request for comment at time of publishing. Any comment supplied will be included in an updated post.

Matthew Mulligan

Matthew is Editor for the 62nd volume of Trinity News. He is a Sociology and Social Policy graduate and was previously Deputy Editor of tn2 Magazine.