On Sunday evening the Sabbatical Officers were pointed to a thread on the Islamic Society discussion forum, containing openly homophobic comments posted by two contributors.
The Union is investigating the matter and has asked ISoc to reveal the identities of the posters. They have also been told to remove the comments by the end of the week. ICU President John Collins gave the followings statement to Live!:
"We are working with ISoc to identify the people who posted these comments and ensure their discussion forum is better moderated in future, but would like to make it clear that we do not hold ISoc responsible for the comments of these individuals."
Within a few hours comments by one of the contributors had been edited to remove the more offensive parts.
The comments, posted in January this year, were in response to the screening of a documentary on Channel 4 titled "Gay Muslims", covering the experiences of five gay and lesbian muslims in the UK.
One of the first responses in the thread is from a user called 'Haji', whose solution to Muslims considering themselves gay is to "batter them". This contributor signed himself off as 'Sagir (Haji) Hassam' in a later post on the discussion forum. A candidate by the name of Sagir (Haji) Hassam was disqualified from last year's Union Council elections for using mailing lists to campaign. At the time these posts were made, Hassam was both Publicity Officer for ISoc and the Vice President of the IC Finance Society. After initial publication of this article, Mr Hassam sent Live! a statement which has been added at the end.
Another contributor, posting as 'Al Chemist', also takes issue with the subject of the documentary, describing the content as "disgusting", continuing "them and a whole load of other 'Muslims' are on my hitlist!"
The language of these contributors calmed down after the majority of others users of the forum expressed opposition to their extreme views.
The Union considers this to be a very serious matter, in breach of several College and Union regulations and potentially incitement to violence. Such discussions on College-hosted websites are governed by College and Union equal opportunities policies and the ICT regulations.
Mr Hassam has given Live! the following statement:
"I have realised in retrospect that my individual thoughts were incorrectly communicated on this thread, and I did post further along the thread that "batter" was a much too strong word, I meant batter in terms of a verbal battering i.e. numerous dicussions, not physically hurting anyone. I would never condone unprovoked violent actions against anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race or gender.
I again want to clarify I do not and will not force my beliefs onto people and I tend not to approach them if I can't do so pleasantly."