The English National Resistance group organised a protest on campus yesterday in order to demonstrate against an Islamic conference being held in the East Midlands Conference Centre.
The group alleges that the conference contains speakers “supporting terrorism, female genital mutilation and subjugation of women”.
The conference is organised by Family Retreat, and invites Muslim families to learn about the Prophet Muhammad. Taking place over the Easter weekend, the conference contains lectures on the Qur’an and seminars about the perceptions of Islam in the media.
However a letter drawn up by Britain First calls for the University to cancel the conference because the views of the speakers “fly against the principles of tolerance and diversity which an educational institution is supposed to represent”.
A University spokesperson told Impact that the East Midlands Conference Centre agreed to hold the conference following “Assurances from the Muslim Research Development Foundation that it does not support or promote any speaker in expression of racist views against any minority or race”.
Britain First names speakers Haitham al-Haddad and Zahir Mahmood as “preachers of hate and divisiveness”.
Dr al-Haddad has been accused of extremism in the past, following controversial statements he has made in his role as jurist in a Sharia Court.
The University spokesperson said that the conference “is aligned with the University’s commitment to freedom of speech and the requirements of the 1986 Education (No2) Act. The Act requires that – so far as it is reasonably practicable, and within the bounds of lawful speech – no premises of the University shall be denied to any individual or body of persons on any grounds connected with the beliefs or views of that individual or of that body, or the policy or objectives of that body.
“This commitment sometimes means listening to challenging views, but it is a principle we defend. It sometimes means the University comes under pressure, including pressure from groups wishing to protest on its campuses. The University took appropriate steps to ensure that normal business was not disrupted by such activity over the weekend”.
There have been allegations of the usage of a smoke grenade at the protest, however at the time of publication the police had not confirmed this allegation.
The English National Resistance group were joined by other nationalist groups from other parts of the country. It is the first protest the ENR have organised in the Midlands.