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Haitham al-Haddad

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Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad is a London-based Salafist[1] and Islamic scholar of Palestinian origins who has attracted controversy for his extreme views.

Haddad has delivered sermons at the al-Muntada al-Islami mosque in London in which he has reportedly described Jews as "the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs" (while claiming no one should be able to insult Islam because no one is allowed to insult any religion[2]), pointed to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as evidence of a Jewish conspiracy, justified the execution of "those who compose heretical writings" (noting that "in the West they are known as creative writers", a possible reference to Salman Rushdie) and stated that "Muslims should prevent [non-Muslims] from ruling any country with a law other than the shari’ah and Muslims should rule the entire planet with this Islamic law", amongst other things.

Haddad wrote an article for Islamic Awakening condemning the use of musical instruments, entitled "Music: A Prohibited and Fake Message of Love and Peace". He argues that "embedded within [music] is a culture of permissiveness and liberalism". "I attended a major Islamic event, at the end of which there was an 'Islamic concert'", he says. "I could not believe what was being done in the name of Islam! Members of the opposite sex where freely mixing, so much so that they were sitting next each other and their thighs were touching."[3]

He is also a representative of Britain's largest sharia body, the Leyton-based Islamic Sharia Council.[4] This organisation's website tells women that, if they do not have sex when their husbands want to, they will be cursed by angels until morning; this will happen even if the woman is afraid of sex due to a history of child sexual abuse.[5] The site also defends the Qu'ran's assertion that the testimony in court of one man is equal to that of two women[6] and argues that Muslims who criticise the practice of stoning will be sent to hell.[7]

In a Q&A session that was filmed and posted online, Haddad was asked by a member of the audience how old teenage girls should be when they marry; he replied by saying that Islamic law has no minimum age. "Thirteen, fourteen?" asked the audience member. "The earlier is the better," replied Haddad; "but you have to be careful of the legal issues."[8]

Haddad is a regular guest at the East London Mosque.[9][10] He has also been invited to speak at various British universities, including the University College London,[11] the University of East London (at which he taught a course),[12] the City University,[13] the London South Bank University[14] and the London School of Economics - although the LSE had the sense to cancel his talk after complaints from Jewish students.[15]

Faced with criticism, he has claimed to be the victim of a "smear campaign conducted by the British Zionist lobby". Not that old chestnut again, surely, Mr. Haddad?[16]

See also[edit]