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Iran aims to establish Islamic studies departments in UK universities

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  1. Gil Grissom 10 Nov 2008, 7:16am

    Good grief! I do hope that the British Universities see sense and refuse to allow this fascist regieme into our learning intitutions. We are far too advanced to allow this backward murderous lot get any more influence into our country. Gotta be vigilant and stop these walking nightmares.

  2. As I student my self I find this sickening. I do hope however, we see protests from students about this, the left protest about anything and everything associated with the BNP or criticism of Islam, so I would hope to see protests about this.

  3. Simon Murphy 10 Nov 2008, 12:39pm

    Islam is a truly wicked cult. Christianity is scarcely better but at least that religion is almost dead here. There’s no way that the evil cult of islam should be allowed to poison British universities with their hatefilled dogma.

  4. More Reasonable 10 Nov 2008, 2:16pm

    I worry about quite such scaremongering comments. Studying Islam in a proper academic context (the substance of the report, rather than the tacked-on gay theme) should be nothing to fear, when inflammatory action and language can be tackled legally. Knowing what we’re talking about and living with has to be healthier than dismissing anything “different” as “wicked”, “evil”, a “walking nightmare”. That’s the kind of language we hate being used about us by people with a different view of the world.

  5. I cannot even begin to understand why this has even been reported on. Is its intention to provoke unnecessarily or for the sake of it? I agree, Islam is a wicked cult, and I don’t think this initiative will ever get off the ground. Sounds like a storm in a teacup to me.

  6. Hold on a cotton picking minute. I agree that it’s not such a great idea for a foreign power with laws we wouldn’t support to be funding British University courses and dictating curriculum but that is not the same thing as to suggest that the study of Islam is wrong. It is outrageous to suggest that Islam in itself is evil as a previous poster suggests and simply highlights the poster’s ignorance. The study of Islam in an academic setting is to be encouraged in order to promote knowledge and understanding. Perhaps not at the beck and call of Iran I would agree, but nevertheless it is not intrinsically problematic.

  7. While I agree with “More Reasonable” to a certain extent I think “Gil Grissom” has a really valid point about vigilance.

    Whether it be millionaire born-again Christians funding City Academies and insisting creationism be on the curriculum or the Iranian government funding universities – the fact remains that education must always remain neutral of religious influence and pressure whatever the denomination. This isn’t a very popular view point as faith schools everywhere will take exception to my comments. If you wish to have faith schools or teach religious instruction of any description, schools & universities are not the venues in which to conduct this activity. Public money can be spent on so many better things rather than psycho-spiritual mumbo jumbo that leads to externalised self-belief and internalised self loathing.

    If “they” (whoever they may be) want to teach religion “they” should confine it to their church / mosque / synagogue* (delete as appropriate). If they haven’t got young people attending their church / mosque / synagogue* (delete as appropriate); then shouldn’t they really be asking themselves why instead of forcing the issue into the mainstream and demanding public funding in the process?

  8. Andrew Reynolds 10 Nov 2008, 4:16pm

    As someone who spent 4 years at uni studying Arabic, the Quran, Hadith and 1500 years of Middle East history I find this article a little sensationalist and rather disappointing. The Middle East has lots to offer in an academic environment and to be frank we need better understanding not increased mutual ignorance.

    One would hope that the universities considering these proposals would look at what influence the Iranian authorities might try to exert over the syllabus – and decline the offer if their independence was at stake. But please differentiate between the policies of a regime and the study of a culture and a history that is as rich as our own.

    How about an article on the links the region has to the LGBT community – from gay poetry by Abu Nuwas, to the 20+ arabic linguists sacked by the US military since 9/11 due to the dont ask/dont tell policy?

  9. Gil Grissom 10 Nov 2008, 6:43pm

    I did study Islam during my degree, just finished my BA in THeology this year, we visited a mosque to ask questions, and studied the ins and outs of their religion, amongst many of this one planet. However, when it came to the question of Homosexuality, Women etc, they are quite vigilant and refused to answer properly. They side stepped the challenge of gay people being put to death ‘in the name of Allah’ and also, remained cautiously quiet when questioned about womens rights. THey did however fully embrace the idea of polygamy – for the man, the women to do such a thing would be put to death. So yes, I have studied it, read the entire Koran, and have Muslim friends who do not adhere to the fundamentalist ideas. However, allowing more freedom for something which teaches against many western liberal ideas may, and i stress this MAY possibly allow the more tyrannical side of things to thrive.

  10. Sometime I wonder whether I’m reading The Daily Mail, or BNP website when I log onto Pink News! At least there are a few sensible comments above. This is classic scare tactics, anyone would’ve though we’d be seeing public executions in any minute now! There’s absolutely nothing wrong in studying Islam, but everything wrong with so-called faith schools and religious fundamentalism, and we’ve enough of both thanks to both the Government & opposition policies, we’ve screwed up our own education system without the need for this reactionary crap from the TaxPayers Alliance! Do some research Pink News, the so-called TaxPayers Alliance are just a small bunch of right-wing Conservatives, disenchanted by Mr Cameron, and no friends of us queers.

  11. Kevin, I’m with you on the Daily Mail comparision – I’ve been shocked by some of the comments on the articles about the black vote for Prop 8; I’ve tried to draft responses but they’ve jsut ended up being “can we stop being so [insert expletive] racist please?”. So good to hear some reasonable voices hear. There’s nothing wrong with studying Islam, and studying all religions can lead to criticism and progression within them.

    I’m interested that the author used ‘racist’ as one of his descriptors of the regime’s use of Islam – are there any examples of this? It’s not something I remember hearing about; I would’ve thought ‘sexist’ is more obvious.

  12. Pav Akhtar 10 Nov 2008, 9:11pm

    As a gay Muslim who volunteers for an LGBT Muslim support group (Imaan) that has more than 1,000 members in Britain I am utterly shocked by the ‘angle’ which Pink News have opted to spin this story. I don’t think I’m surprised though because Pink News frequently appears to adopt angles that provoke reactionary and bigoted comments from some of ugliest sections of the LGBT community. People then use one or other pejorative reference to Islam and Muslims as if we were one monolithic block and betray their own vile bigotry.

    For a change, though, I am really pleased to see the considered and intelligent comments by people like: eleanargh, Kevin, Andrew Reynolds, Ashley and More Reasonable. Thank you for your measured contributions.

    1. Keith Farrell 26 Apr 2012, 9:33pm

      well said, but I think the way your religion is practiced and what is writern are two different things, I know of many molem people who will not eat any meat that is not halal, but will happily drink and gamble. you yourself refering to yourself as a gay molem, there can be no such thing, you are either gay or molem. so lets get real your religion outlaws us and will have us murdered. The Christians are not much better but we are winning slowly. with the Moslem religion I cannot ever see us winning, it is a religion full of radicals

  13. I’ll go one further on this, Pink News could be seen to have it’s own racist agenda by constantly rehashing press releases from reactionary right-wing pressure groups, without checking basic facts. This is not only lazy journalism, but irresponsible. Any ideas of how more reasonable members of the queer community can challenge this? I’m all for free speech, but it works both ways!

    Finally, hope I’m wrong, but what’s the bet that Pink News is owned & edited by Zionists?

  14. Um, I wouldn’t go that far. I tend to presume Islamophobic comments are generally made out of ignorance and susceptibility to general media irresponsibility.

    But here’s the editoral policy and what one can do to submit a complaint:

    “2)Religious viewpoints

    PinkNews.co.uk respects the rights of people of all religions and none. We do not hold any bias in favour of one particular religious group or another.

    However, we are limited to who will co-operate with us in relation to particular news stories and features. For this reason, it is likely that we will include more quotes from religious leaders in the liberal tradition rather than those who belong to orthodox communities.

    If you believe that an article is in breach of one of the above policies, then you should immediately contact the news editor in the first instance through our editorial office. If you are unsatisfied with his response, you may refer the matter in writing to our Managing Director, Benjamin Cohen or our Chairman Andrew Millet at PinkNews, Pheonix Yard, 65 Kings Cross Road, London WC1X 9LW

    The News Editor can be reached via 020 7239 4910 or by fax on 0871 433 4253″.

  15. henry collier 10 Nov 2008, 11:23pm

    Study of Islam need not concentrate any more on the fundamentalist radical branch any more than the study of Christian faith should concentrate on the doctrines of Fred Phelps or Jimmy Swaggart. When i was at Prince of Songkla University in Pattani Thailand a few years ago we had many speakers from the College of Islamic Studies make presentations to our student group. These Islamic scholars found no support for those groups that practiced terror and violence in the name of Islam in their studies. We paint Islam and the Muslims with the broad brush of ignorance. There are those out there who believe in learning and change. I do not, in any way, support those who preach violence and intolerance of individual differences. If we demand our human rights, then the other must have those same rights. When those among us choose violence and discrimination, we already have laws to counter those behaviours. Let us enforce the laws we have rather than creating targets.

  16. As a gay man, I don’t understand how anyone can advocate the study of Islam or any other religion for that matter. Most religions consider us to be nothing more than perverts.

    Muslims, Christians etc should be asked to study gay issues for a change – maybe that would give them an insight into our lives and maybe change some of their bigoted views.

  17. More Reasonable said: Knowing what we’re talking about and living with has to be healthier than dismissing anything “different” as “wicked”, “evil”, a “walking nightmare”.
    Perhaps More Reasonable should read the Koran:
    [ 9: 30 ] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! (Shakir translation)

  18. Pav, on the one hand i think you’ve got a point, often comments on the message boards are negative about Islam, but that’s generally because Islam is VERY negative about homosexuality, if certain muslim countries and individuals stopped calling for gays and lesbians to be imprisoned/executed, the gays would become much more positive about Islam and less perjorative. Obviously Muslims are not all the same or part of one monolithic block, but i think until we see an established “liberal reformed” Islam, willing to stand up and say that some of the teachings of the Koran are out and out wrong, there will continue to be negativity towards Islam from the gay community. I don’t think that’s Bigotry, it’s common sense. It’s why i don’t use the word Islamophobia, a phobia is an IRRATIONAL fear or hatred, but when you look at the way islamic teachings with regard to homosexuality are interpreted in virtually every Muslim majority country in the world, there’s every reason to feel fear and dislike, though not hatred towards Islam. Correct me if i’m wrong but Turkey is the only Muslim country where Homosexuality is legal or where there is any kind of legal/open gay scene. I lived in Dubai for years, and yes there was a gay scene of sorts which involved muslims and non muslims alike but at any point those bars could’ve been raided and the gays in them arrested, deported etc, and that in the most “liberal” Islamic country in the gulf. What exactly is there about Islam for the gay community to like? None of the above is any reason to be negative or hostile to individual muslims though

  19. Andy, thank you for your posting, and for trying to contribute to a more informed discussion of this issue. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor do I think that a short message board response like this is the likely place to start unpacking the complex debate about homosexuality, religious texts and the question of interpretation, or itjihad, as we call it in Islam.

    I had an interesting telephone call this evening during which I had my ear bent about the posting which I made on this message board yesterday (see earlier). I thought that I was fairly measured and pragmatic in what I wrote: “Pink News frequently appears to adopt angles that provoke reactionary and bigoted comments from some of ugliest sections of the LGBT community.” I remain of the opinion that I am entitled to contribute to the discussion without people concluding that I am branding PinkNews as “Islamophobic” or other.

    To be clear, I was making the point that sensationalist reporting of facts, or stretching the facts of a story so far out into the ether to find the ‘LGBT angle’ can lead to the kind of outlandish postings which brand entire communities as an “evil” and “wicked cult” as demonstrated on this message board (see earlier). In my view there is a cosmic difference between my call for more accurate and balanced reporting and the supposed claim that the editorial ‘line’ of a particular Pink media organ is motivated by malice or prejudice, not least because the former is easier to isolate and illustrate than the latter.

    I also made the point to the person telephoning me this evening that ‘loose’ writing without thought to the consequence or impact, especially when there is a consciousness that the way in which the story was presented – which in my view and that of several others (see earlier) conflated facts with fiction and hyperbole – was irresponsible because it would inevitably feed the bigotry of a section of Pink News’ message-board-posting readership (about whose extremely “bigoted” views there has now been a Pink News editorial admission).

    Further, for those of us who are Muslim and LGBT having to read these prejudiced expressions of opinion is not only hurtful, but it belittles us, and forces the many LGBT Muslims playing an important part in advocating and untangling the palimpsest which is their faith, culture and sexuality to recoil and rethink how involved they can be with an LGBT community or media organ that wittingly, or unwittingly, chooses to report in such a way that leads, some might say incites, the reader to a hold a distorted and negative impression of a whole community, including of them as Muslims (and LGBT Muslims, at that).

    My argument therefore was that as a reader I was left with the distinct impression that the manner in which this article was reported lacked accuracy or balance, two fundamentals in good news reporting, or that its play with semantics led to an unmerited conclusion in the mind of any reasonably thinking, critical person’s mind. I consider this a perfectly valid opinion to hold.

    If we, in the LGBT community (Muslim or not), do not speak up when we feel that our LGBT media outlets are getting things wrong, then perhaps we do our community a great disservice. Equally, it is right and proper that we stand up and speak out when our Muslim community is behaving in a manner that denies others’ dignity, respect and fundamental rights. There are Islamic values as much as they are universal values, and Muslims, after all, believe that only God can sit in judgement of human beings.

    My own journey of reading and understanding Islamic scriptures and text has brought me to a place of greater understanding and reconciliation with my faith, that’s why I’m involved with Imaan, the Muslim LGBT support group, and work other sections of the Muslim and other faith, and LGBT community to further understanding and respect.

  20. There is nothing wrong with studying Islam. It’s the Islamic Republic of Iran’s interpretation of Islam that is dangerous.

  21. theotherhalf 15 Nov 2008, 5:21pm

    between one extreme and another…

    Nothing against the study of Islam but Iran funding University departments when they hang Queers and want to ‘wipe Israel off the face of the earth’? No thanks.

  22. Keith Farrell 26 Apr 2012, 9:21pm

    The real problem is that by law they have the right to do this but the students can not attend any of their lectures and get everyone else to refuse to go. Hopefull the universities will be cleaver and require lots of funding from them prior to allowing them to have such a department

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