Opinion: May is right to ban hate preachers from universities
It is one thing to practise a religion, but quite another to despise everyone who does not agree. On Monday, extremist preacher Imran ibn Mansur, known for his homophobic attitudes, was banned from speaking at an event of the Islamic Society at University of East London. And rightly so, says Sarah Remsky
It seems like extremism is becoming more and more mainstream. Since May 2010, 84 hate preachers have been excluded from Britain – a number that signifies a growing trend. As the Evening Standard reported, in a video on his Youtube channel last July, Imran ibn Mansur called homosexuality a “filthy, shameless” act and disease, words full of hatred.
Still, Mansur, or Dawah Man as he named himself, has a big platform for his extremist opinion. More than 37,000 people have subscribed to his channel, among them many young Brits. But given that hate preachers like Mansur already have a far too large platform for propaganda on the internet – they should not be given another at schools or universities, where they can influence naïve teenagers face-to-face.
That is why it was high time for the new counter-terrorism bill that was published yesterday. The bill includes a duty for universities and other institutions, such as schools, councils, prisons and probation providers, to ban extremist preachers from their grounds and will hopefully make it harder for extremists like Mansur to voice their opinions.
The UK will need to be careful, however, in the way the bill is enforced in order to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The counter-terrorism bill should not be an excuse to ban anyone with an inconvenient opinion from speaking out. Neither should it only be seen with regards to extremist Muslims. What the bill should be, instead, is a protection for vulnerable individuals from being drawn into extremism.
Because extremist thoughts do not have much to do with religion, if you ask me. I am not a Muslim, I am a Christian, but I know that hatred towards humanity is not something that religion teaches you – no matter if you are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Jew. With that in mind, it would be just as important to ban an extremist Christian – in 2009, for example, members of the Westboro Baptist Church were denied entry to the UK to protest a play staged at Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke.
What I want to emphasize is that extremism simply does not belong into institutions such as universities. These are education hubs, places of tolerance and objectivity, where everyone is allowed to become wiser, no matter which background, sexual orientation or religion they have. They are neither a place to express extremist opinions, nor to recruit followers for them.
Featured Image by Theonlysilentbob (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons