Students voice disgust over invitation to cleric who said Hitler did Jews ‘a favour’

Nottingham University Islamic Society has been forced to postpone speaking event with Shaykh Asrar Rashid


Nottingham University Islamic Society has postponed an event with a cleric who claimed Hitler did Jews “a favour” amid outrage among Jewish students that he was invited to speak in the first place.

Birmingham-based cleric Shaykh Asrar Rashid, who once labelled the late Queen Elizabeth II a “disgusting woman”, had been invited by the Islamic Society to give a talk on "The End of Times".

A 7 December Facebook post advertising the event said only “brothers” would be permitted to attend the talk at the University’s Law and Social Science building.

On 10 December the society said the talk would take place at the Lenton Muslim Centre as it would no longer be able to host the event on campus. It also said the event would be open to "brothers and sisters".

The following day the society wrote that the talk was “postponed until further notice due to unforeseen circumstances”.

However the event has not been cancelled, with the ISoc's post noting that it would keep followers posted on a revised date.

In a video posted to his YouTube Channel in June 2022, Mr Rashid claimed that "By the 1940s, Hitler did a favour for the Jews that the Jews now were favoured by Europe,” adding that following the Holocaust Jews "held all the politicians in their pockets”.

In May 2021 the JC reported on an online debate concerning the Israel-Gaza war in which the Birmingham cleric said the “only solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “jihad” by Muslim-majority countries.

Mr Rashid claimed that the“only solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict was “jihad” by Muslim-majority countries

“I believe the only solution is jihad,” he explained, adding, “and a call for jihad, and an announcement for jihad by Muslim majority states that we have.

“Even surgical strikes or wallpaper strikes, the type that Saddam Hussein did in the early 1990s, I believe. Thirty-nine rockets he fired into Tel Aviv and every Jew was running into his shelter. Those with a European passport would be running back to Europe.”

“You see the way they react to Katyusha missiles or Qassam missiles that do not even kill anyone, they run into their shelters so the Jews are known as…a cowardly nation.”

Mr Rashid has been invited as a speaker by numerous mosques and community centres in the UK, including Walthamstow Masjid in East London, Birmingham's Zia-Ul-Quran Mosque and Derby’s Pakistan Community Centre.

A spokesperson for the University of Nottingham Students Union told the JC: “At the University of Nottingham Students' Union we value, champion, and uphold freedom of speech and actively encourage our student community to share ideas in a spirit of mutual respect and intellectual curiosity. Our student societies cover a wide range of beliefs and provide the opportunity to agree, disagree and debate.

“We have been made aware of an invitation issued by the Islamic Society to Asrar Rashid to address its members. The Students' Union has requested a postponement of the event to ensure that the agreed process for issuing such speaker invitations has been followed and allows us to determine whether the event can be held peacefully and safely for all those concerned.

“Our priority is, and always will be, for all of our student members and it is of the utmost importance to us that we make sure all Students’ Union activity is safe, inclusive, dignified, respectful, and responsible.”

In a statement, a Nottingham Jewish Society spokesperson said: “We are appalled by the invitation of Asrar Rashid to deliver this talk on campus. Rashid's repeated comments inciting hatred against Jewish people and the LGBT+ community give us cause for deepest concern, especially given that many of these hateful comments have been made in previous talks on the same topic, the End of Days. 

“We are pleased that the event did not take place as scheduled, yet we will continue to make representations to ensure that it is not organised for a later date. 

“This invitation should never have been approved in the first place, and our complaints should have been taken seriously and been treated discretely by the University and Students’ Union. Speakers who seek to incite hatred should not be invited to speak at our university.”

David Rich, CEO of the Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats, told the JC, “Asrar Rashid’s views about Jews are thoroughly objectionable and no right-thinking student society should want to go anywhere near him.”

The JC approached Shaykh Asrar Rashid and the University of Nottingham Islamic Society for comment.

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