Reading University cancels anti-gay Islamic preacher visit amid violent protest fears
Homophobic cleric Abu Usamah at-Thahabi will no longer be visiting the University of Reading tomorrow after the event he was due to attend was cancelled because of fears of violent protests.
The cleric has advocated that gay men should be thrown off a “mountain” and previously referred to gay people as “perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered”.
Thahabi was due to attend Reading University’s Muslim Society on Thursday as part of a series of talks designed to raise awareness of Islam as a faith.
In a statement on Wednesday, Reading University Muslim Society, Reading University Students Union and the University of Reading said it had decided to cancel the event due to threats “from extremist groups”.
The statement read:
A careful assessment of the threat to the events on Wednesday and Thursday evening have led all three organisations to reluctantly agree to the cancelation of these talks. Our priority is to the safety of all those who had planned to attend or to peacefully protest outside the talk and we are very disappointed that we have had to take this course of action. However, the safety of our students, members, staff and visitors is of paramount importance.
Both the University and RUSU are committed to supporting the Muslim Society in its aims of raising awareness of Islam and building mutual understanding. We are delighted that other events in the week’s programme will be going ahead as planned.
As part of the review of these events, the university has agreed to work with RUSU to ensure its policies reflect the need to protect the principles of freedom of speech in balance with the rights of all constituent parts of the student community. The university is committed to upholding both the right to free speech and the right to lawful protest within an environment that guarantees the safety of all users of our campuses.