As part of their ‘Discover Islam’ week, Durham University Islamic Society (DUISOC) has distributed leaflets written by Dr. Zakir Naik, an Islamist preacher banned from the UK in 2010.
The leaflet in question, entitled ‘Answers to Non-Muslims’ Common Questions About Islam’, arguesthat “every Muslim should be a terrorist to anti-social elements in society”. He goes on to blame alcoholism for high levels of rape, molestation, incest and AIDS in western countries.
In his leaflet, Dr. Naik also claims that women should wear hijabs to “prevent them from being molested”, and states Western culture has turned women into “concubines, mistresses, and social butterflies who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers”. He describes mini-skirts as “an indirect invitation to the opposite sex for teasing and molestation.”
Having read the leaflets, two students Martha Muir and Sabrina Steuer challenged DUISOC on their decision to give them out at their Dawah stall. Although the students received no direct response, the President of DUISOC later informed The Tab that the leaflet “doesn’t represent the views of our society” and was distributed “by honest mistake”.
Dr. Naik’s comments about terrorism have not been limited to unfortunate metaphors. He has given explicit support to individuals responsible for acts of terrorism. Whilst discussing Osama bin Laden, he said: “If he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him … If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist … I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist”.
In the past, Dr. Naik has also promoted 9/11 conspiracies and intolerance towards Jews, women, homosexuals and apostates. He has described the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers as “an inside job”, endorsed the death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, and argued that the Jews “control America” and are the “strongest in enmity to Muslims”.
He also said men have the “right” to beat their wives “gently” and they have the “right to sex with their female slaves”.
Justifying her decision to stop Dr. Naik’s entry into the country, Theresa May – then Home Secretary – said, “Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behavior”.
She added, “Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK”.
After founding the Dubai-based Islamic Channel ‘Peace TV’ in 2006, Dr. Naik has won millions of followers on Facebook, hundreds of thousands on Twitter, and given more than 4,000 lectures on Islam across the world.
He is arguably one of the most influential preachers and televangelists in the Muslim world. His lectures and writings are extremely popular and it is worrying that his illiberal views and support for terrorism have begun to turn up on university campuses.
At Student Rights we are glad that DUISOC has clarified their mistake and distanced themselves from Dr. Naik and the leaflet’s content. However, the whole episode could have been avoided if there was greater coordination between the Student Union and DUISOC, especially with reference to the existing Prevent guidance. We especially commend Martha and Sabrina for their work in identifying and challenging what they accurately determined was extremist material.
We advise all students to look carefully at the content of any literature they are distributing, and to undertake background research on authors and organisations responsible for their publication ahead of time. If necessary, they should raise any outstanding concerns with their Student Unions and the university authorities.