Islamic Society’s event sparks controversy

YUSU defended the invitation of Yusuf Chambers to speak at the University on Wednesday evening amid controversy over the speaker’s views on homosexuality

YUSU has defended the invitation of Yusuf Chambers to speak at the University on Wednesday evening amid controversy over the speaker’s views on homosexuality.

The Islamic Society has invited Yusuf Chambers to speak at an event entitled ‘Patience, perseverance, and Final Exam’, and Tim Ellis, YUSU President, said in a blog post that the event would go ahead.

The event has been criticised by Stand for Peace, one of Britain’s leading Jewish-Muslim interfaith organisations, who say that Chambers has in the past, “expressed the desire for homosexuals to be killed and has denied that homosexuality has any natural or genetic origins.”

This allegation comes from a conversation between Mr Chambers and Dr. Zakir, called ‘Ramadhaan – The Month of Self-Improvement &Islaah [Part 2]’. In this 50 minute discussion, they take a selection of 70 sins and Dr. Zakir explains what Islam says about homosexuality, adultery and many others.

Ellis sought to reassure those against the invitation of Chambers, commenting on the YUSU website: “Under the University’s responsibility for encouraging divergent view and debate through the 1986 Education Act, it has been agreed that this event will go ahead. The society will be required to ensure that the Chair and speaker are clearly briefed on what is acceptable under Freedom of Speech.”

Leon Morris, YUSU LGBT Officer, in contrast to the statement by Ellis, commented: “I feel that Yusuf Chambers coming to the University is a difficult one to justify. I accept that the Islamic Society are at complete liberty to allow anyone they wish to see speak at any of their events. It is a different issue however, when the Society invite a man who openly preaches hatred against homosexuals, women and Jews. It’s completely unacceptable.”

The University has stated they will monitor the situation but not stop the event: “The University of York is founded on the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The University’s Islamic Society extended an invitation to this speaker and he is free to express his views provided they do not infringe the Equality Act or any other law. We will monitor the situation closely and a senior member of staff will attend the event.”

Ellis added: “They [the Islamic Society] have not brought him onto campus to talk about homosexuality and have expressly invited all students to attend the event and said that students’ views can be aired in the Question and Answer section. I would urge students to make their voices heard and I will also be seeking to work with the Islamic Society, and the YUSU LGBT network to talk about these issues in a healthy round table discussion in the coming weeks.”

Last year the invitation of Islamic Scholar Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari by the Islamic Society to speak at the University, caused several campus societies to criticise the event.

An informal meeting was arranged yesterday today to discuss the best way to highlight Chambers’ “abhorrent views”.

Hasan Afzal, Director of Stand for Peace, has spoken out against the event: “Although defenders of Yusuf Chambers’s views will claim this, his invitation is not a freedom of speech issue. It is a decency issue. Do the people of York really want such a man to poison the minds of young people? Would the inaction of the University be the same if this man was a white neo-nazi? I don’t think so. The University has a duty to protect its students from religious extremism.”

But Ellis suggested that students make their voices heard by attending the event and participating in the Question and Answer session.

“We believe that students are intelligent people who are capable of hearing different views and evaluating them. I don’t believe that as a body we are impressionable enough that we need to be protected from certain opinions. I also don’t believe that it should be the Union’s responsibility to ‘vet’ who students can and cannot hear speak on an arbitrary basis.”

Morris added: “I’ve spoken to people who are weary of becoming involved but most people accept that Mr Chambers poses a potential risk to the welfare of some students at York as he has openly told people that he wishes the death of those I’ve already mentioned, which encompasses all of those students that I represent as a Student Officer.

“The key point to keep reiterating is that this isn’t a simple difference of opinion – the guy wants the death penalty for any sex outside of heterosexual marriage and that’s not on. Also, I’d like to say – we don’t have a no platform policy at YUSU, but we don’t need one – inviting someone who wishes death upon our students onto our campus poses a real and credible threat to us.”

The Islamic Society was contacted but has yet to respond.

The statement by Tim Ellis can be read here


  1. Yusuf Chambers

    Yusuf Chambers is part of the IERA and an associate of hate preachers banned from the UK, such as Bilal Philips and Zakir Naik.


    Murder of Homosexuals

    During an interview with Dr Zakir Naik (banned from Britain for hate preaching) he specifically asks the scholar what the punishment for homosexuality should be.

    Dr Naik replies: “So homosexuality is forbidden in Islam and the punishment for homosexuality is death.”[1]

    Chambers accepts his definition and requests that Naik refute suggestions that homosexuality has any natural or genetic origins:

    Yusuf Chambers: Well JazakAllah Khair for clearing that issue up because I am sure many Muslims who still ponder that issue with the Gay Gene which is spoken about more than 10 years ago now is it? Or slightly less than 10 years ago

    Dr. Zakir: 14 years

    Yusuf Chambers: And but its still seems to be a view which is accepted… So may Allah preserve us from[2]


    In an interview with Zakir Naik:

    Dr Zakir: That means if any man or woman who is not married, if they have unlawful sexual intercoolers, the punishment is 100 lashes, flogging them with 100 lashes…

    So the punishment for adultery, unlawful sexual intercourse done by married man is Islam, it is stoning to death….

    Yusuf Chambers: Well, Dr. Zakir, I feel that those 2 punishments were enough to frighten the most of the individuals from Zina [adultery]. May Allah protect us from that.

    Dr. Zakir: That’s in Islamic country but the punishment is not there in a non-muslim country.

    Yusuf Chambers: Ahaa…

    Dr. Zakir: So If it’s put through out the world, InshaAllah, Zina would be removed from the face of the earth.

    Yusuf Chambers: InshaAllah

    Dr. Zakir: InshaAllah

    Yusuf Chambers: May Allah allow us to bring back that punishment to protect all humanity, InshaAllah.[3]


    Other Speakers at the IERA (Yusuf Chambers’ organisations)

    Abdullah Hakim Quick

    Six years ago, Quick was condemned by New Zealand’s broadcasting authority for his fiery anti-gay broadcasts which included these claims: – AIDS is caused by the “filthy practices” of homosexuals – Homosexuals are dropping dead from AIDS and “they want to take us all down with them” – The Islamic position on homosexuality is “death” – Homosexuals are “sick” and “not natural” – “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names”.

    Unrepentant, he continues to hold this position: “They said ‘what is the Islamic position [on homosexuality]?’ And I told them. Put my name in the paper. The punishment is death. And I’m not going to change this religion.”[1]

    Abdur-Raheem Green

    In an essay on his website entitled, “Terrible and brutal Islamic punishments or wise and just guidance from Allah?”, Green argues that homosexuality and adultery are “inexcusable, and justly punished with severity.” For this he stipulates death: “a slow and painful death by stoning. It is indicative of just how harmful this crime is to society.”

    He concludes by arguing that that people should not quibble about whether the Islamic punishments are too harsh or not according to their own cultural experiences, but should just accept that Islam has a long track record and trust that Islamic law works[2].

    Yusuf Estes

    In an article on his website he says: “Scholars of Islam have already made it clear what the position is on those who engage in homosexual activities.” And he links to a fatwa ruling:

    “In order to maintain the purity of the Muslim society, most Muslim scholars have ruled that the punishment for this act should be the same as for zina (i.e. one hundred whiplashes for the man who has never married, and death by stoning for the married man). Some have even ruled that it should be death for both partners, because the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: ‘Kill the doer and the one to whom it was done.’[3]

    Estes further reprints and endorses an email on his website referring to gay people as “deviants” and “devils”.

    Hamza Tzortzis

    Hamza Tzortzis wants to criminalise homosexuality. He argues: “Some people object to Islam making the public expression of homosexuality a criminal act. This is subjective and only strikes a chord amongst those who cannot escape the social constructs in their own societies. There are societies past and present which accepted paedophilia and cannibalism as normal parts of human life and they would find Western society oppressive preventing them from carrying out these practices.”

    He concludes by stating: “Those who claim that making homosexuality a criminal act is wrong are totally inconsistent.” He suggests this would mean saying that God is wrong. He explicitly rejects the argument that the historical context is different to the modern context: “Islam does not change with the tide or the fashion of the day,” he says.[4]

    Shady Suleiman

    He says: “Also homosexuality that’s spreading all these diseases. Let’s not deny the fact. Don’t call it the name of freedom. Don’t talk about freedom and, you know, this is the freedom of action and we could do whatever we want. It doesn’t mean that freedom of action you destroy a nation. These are evil actions that bring evil outcomes to our society… Remember that if there is an Islamic state the punishment of zina (sex outside marriage), the punishment of those who commit zina, if they have never been married before, they will be lashed 100 lashes. If they are married while they committed zina, or previously been married and divorced, and they committed zina, then their punishment is stoning to death.”[6]


    Reply Report

  2. From what I have read here, Mr Chambers’ views do appear rather abhorrent. However his views have every right to be heard in this country, much like the views of those who take offence at his opinions. It would make much more sense to rationally repute his arguments (and embarrass him), instead of merely banning him from speaking at the university, as I feel doing something that would make us equally intolerant.

    Reply Report

  3. No, sorry there is no threat to anybody. Just let the man speak.

    Reply Report

  4. Being a homosexual (LGBT) is a choice; so is being a Muslim. To argue that Mr Chambers is a threat to homosexuals is to similarly argue that homosexuals are a threat to Islam or some Muslims.

    Additionally, it can be argued that David Cameron and Nick Clegg also have abhorrent views – they would never be banned from speaking at the University.

    Reply Report

  5. ABC123: What a reprehensible comment. By making that parallel, you are saying that Yusuf Chambers’ disgusting views are representative of all Muslims’ views, and thus implying that all Muslims have the same hateful attitude towards homosexuals.

    This is absolute nonsense. British Muslims have shown themselves to be committed to gay rights on many occasions, and your slur is deeply Islamophobic.

    Reply Report

  6. It’s also disgusting that you think homosexuality is a ‘choice’ and not a normal and natural distinction. In fact, you’re echoing Yusuf Chambers’ views, who also claims it’s a choice.

    Reply Report

  7. Its interesting how on the one hand we speak about freedom of speech and the right to express one’s view’s.. on the other hand we talk about briefing the speaker so he is aware of what we want him to say and not to say.. what happened to the “FREEDOM” of speech?

    “The society will be required to ensure that the Chair and speaker are clearly briefed on what is acceptable under Freedom of Speech.”

    Reply Report

  8. Homosexuality is a choice. Heterosexuality is also a choice.

    Look: if you see a person walking down the street you do not know whether they are gay, lesbian, trans or straight. You cannot know this fact just by looking at them.

    Sexuality is personal. It doesn’t have to be made known to anyone. Therefore it is a choice to make it known. For example, there is no heterosexual society on campus.

    What about the rights of heterosexual people?

    Reply Report

  9. @ABC123,

    “Sexuality is personal. It doesn’t have to be made known to anyone. Therefore it is a choice to make it known.”

    People don’t just wake up and say, “today I feel I’m going to sleep with the same sex” you ignoramus. Indeed, sexuality is personal but it’s not a choice. You can’t ‘turn-off’ homosexuality just as you can’t ‘turn-on’ hetrosexuality in gays.

    Comment has been moderated

    Reply Report

  10. Exactly the same as last year. Islamic Society invited a below par speaker to provoke controversy and build their profile, then hiding behind YUSU and allowing them and the University to take the flack.

    Reply Report

  11. @Z Manji I’m so sick of hearing this ridiculous ‘freedom of speech’ argument. It’s not a freedom of speech issue. It’s ILLEGAL and wrong to preach hate and promote violence towards minority groups. Dr Zakir has been barred entry to the UK because his views are so abhorrent. Yusuf Chambers has clearly acknowledged that he agrees with Zakir’s views (see above) and therefore it’s disgusting that he was given a platform on campus.

    Reply Report

  12. ‘What about the rights of heterosexual people?’

    Right on brother, for too long straight people have been denied because of their sexuality. Someone has to put a stop to it.

    You cannot move for gay, disabled, ethnic minority leaders these days. Oh for the days where straight, white, middle-class men made the decisions.

    Reply Report

  13. The standforpeace article about Yusuf chambers mostly talks about other people. The only reference against Yusuf chambers is an interview no9t published by IERA. Calling him radical by not comparing with any of his other work is not fair. Actually lecture was held in very friendly way. It is the campaign against it which is spreading hate between different groups on campus.

    Another important point is that he was not here to express so called abhorrent views. Title of the talk was ‘Patience, Perseverance and the Final Exam’ .

    Reply Report

  14. If YUSU itself had invited the speaker, I would understand a protest, with a view to withdrawing this invitation, as all students are members of YUSU.

    However, the speaker was invited by the Islamic Society, whose members clearly want to hear him speak. Trying to prevent him from coming is fascist and oppressive. Freedom of speech rests on the principle that everyone is allowed to express their views, regardless of whether other people like them.

    I would be really interested to hear how ‘For Peace’ rationalises their decision to oppose free speech.

    Reply Report

  15. I don’t think it is particularly unfair to call someone a radical when they refuse to retract a statement in support of stoning adulterers to death. The campaign against Yusuf was not hateful in the slightest (unless you can adduce some evidence for this assertion?). It was specifically directed at Yusuf, and his intolerant views, and – as a matter of fact – there was a very peaceful dialogue outside the venue between the protestors and people of faith, which was productive, friendly, and tolerant.

    As I mention in my blog, I spoke to Yusuf after the event, and there was nothing ambiguous about his extremism. His statement on adultery is clear and he does not deny saying it, and he failed to retract it when given the opportunity.

    Reply Report

  16. LBGT students are so militant these days. You really need to progress with your politics. You remind me of the first wave of feminism where the suffragettes where throwing themselves under horses and calling hunger strikes.

    You need to employ better tactics. Protesting with slogans written on cardboard is so outdated.

    Reply Report

  17. @DEF456 :

    In this case, should be also ban the EDL, who are rather militant in their dislike toward Muslims who are technically a minority in this country? What about certain political parties, who are also quite against other minority groups?

    Secondly, just as most religious groups, there are punishments for homosexuals/adulterers who are seen as perverse in society- I don’t agree with it, and I never have, but we have to acknowledge that this is a point of view/opinion that people have a right to, JUST as they have a right to oppose it. Some people disagree with leftist visions of the state, some people are against right-wing notions of the state too, but that does not mean it should be silenced. Rather, it should be challenged in public view, and discourse should be engaged- as is what the purpose of a university is.

    Recall a few years back when Andrew Brons and Nick Griffin were invited to speak at Durham, and were cancelled due to the protests by ANTIFA and the UAF. It didn’t stop them in their popularity, and it didn’t stop them winning EU seats. What did stop their rise was when Nick Griffin made an arse of himself on Question Time, and basically discredited the entire party as a bunch of Morons. Why you think that banning these speakers does anything to stop their views being presented on campus is beyond me (Naik was banned from the UK, but his speech was presented on videolink at the Oxford Union, and he is still as popular as ever).

    Similarly, Mr. Chambers has a different view to the liberal-democratic ideal of the judicial rights and the state. We don’t have to agree with them, but that doesen’t mean that ignoring them is okay.

    Reply Report

  18. Interesting… YUSU appear to have removed the twitter feed from their site, presumably because of the negative remarks about the Islamic Society it will have been displaying. Would that not be… oh I don’t know… censorship of free speech?

    So just to be absolutely clear YUSU, it’s fine to censor negative attitudes towards religion, but not towards homosexuality?

    Reply Report

  19. @Hova: I was at Durham at the time and I campaigned FOR free speech in that case because Griffin was going to be taking part in a debate where his views could be ripped to shreds with argument.

    The case of a lecture is entirely different.

    Reply Report

  20. YUSU have indeed removed the twitter feed. YUSU is a scam, it supports senior management over students.

    Senior management says ‘roll over’ – YUSU says ‘how high?’

    Reply Report

  21. To the writers: great story by the way. Laura Hughes is definitely my favourite Nouse journo – and Martin Spurr is very sexy in the geek-chic, Seth Cohen, Clark Kent-Superman kind of way (sorry in advance for objectifying you).

    Reply Report

  22. @anoncow

    You need to look up the word censorship in the dictionary.

    Comment has been moderated

    Reply Report

  23. 15 Jun ’12 at 10:39 pm

    Qaisar Siddiqui

    @ABC123, with all due respect, how on Earth can you refer to LGBT students as “militant”? Have you ever seen a gay marriage advocate toting an AK-47 while demanding an end to discriminatory restrictions on blood transfusions? Or perhaps one taking Central Hall hostage due to slashed glitter budgets?

    I’m not sure how holding cardboard signs can be considered militant, but I would love to hear of your more progressive protesting tactics, given how clearly “outdated” you find those of us liberals to be.

    But unfortunately, you’re the sort of deluded type who still believes human sexual orientation is a choice. So I can’t take much of what you say too seriously.

    Reply Report

  24. 22 Jun ’12 at 10:23 pm

    Patchwork Quilt

    I have been to Islamic Society talks: depressingly narrow-minded intellectually – but actively destructive in their community ethics. One speaker opened with, “Did you hear that Christopher Hitchens has cancer?” with a raised eyebrow, before snarling a patronising prayer for his soul. All minorities are granted rights to assembly and to speech: this does not condone incitement of hatred towards other minorities. I’m afraid freedom of speech does not cover infringement of another minority’s rights to expression. Religious minorities tend to distort the right to speak freely – when in fact their rights are no more deserved than any other minority’s including that of homosexuals.

    Nor does freedom of speech mean all thinking is equally ‘legitimate’. Freedom of speech may, at points, be necessarily jeopardised in order to protect a minority’s civil rights – esp. at this juncture at which gay marriage may be legislated for. It is not that ugly ideas should be censored on principle but that such ideas may do irrevocable damage on the rights of a minority.

    And ABC-thingy – homosexuality is often not a lifestyle choice – but whether it is or not is irrelevant. Another person’s consenting sexual practices are none of your concern – or Yusuf’s. A student body’s inviting a loathsome speaker to justify an archaic notion like sexual immorality is deeply disconcerting. Yes, I am partial – I believe in right and wrong. It’s a shame that Islamic Soc evidently do not.

    Reply Report

  25. Who the hell has the right to say someone who is homosexual should be killed??i am a non practising christian and i respect other faiths but i cant and wont accept that this man is allowed to stand up in front of people and say the vile things he is saying are right.. to me all muslims are suffering the backlash of the deplorable things done by the extremists and the islamic state!until they are stopped all muslims will be abused treat like dirt and mistrusted.the things that have been done in the name of Allah are disgusting and this man should be stopped from spouting his narrow minded ignorant and totally offensive views!

    Reply Report

Leave a comment

Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.