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Saturday, September 20, 2014

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U of T won’t cancel lecture series

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Despite receiving pressure from various community groups, the University of Toronto says it won’t cancel an 18-week course led by Toronto-based Islamic scholar Abdullah Hakim Quick, who has made public homophobic and antisemitic statements.

“The University of Toronto on occasion receives requests to bar individuals from speaking on campus. While, on some of these occasions, the administration is as offended as are those who would wish the speaker to be denied a voice… we will continue to encourage progress through open discussion and an exchange of views, no matter how difficult that may be in certain situations,” U of T said last week.

The controversy stems from an invitation by U of T’s Muslim Students Association to have Quick lead a lecture series on the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

Quick, an American convert who received a PhD in history from U of T, said in a previous lecture that the Islamic position on homosexuality is that it’s punishable by death.

Quick also made a comment about purifying Islam’s “third-holiest shrine from the ‘filth of Christians and Jews.’”

Quick has since apologized for his comments on his blog.

Howard English, senior vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said he appreciates U of T’s “sensitivity to our concerns. The university’s apparently reluctant decision to permit Quick to continue his course on campus neither erases nor excuses his reprehensible endorsement of death for gay people. The presence at U of T of someone who holds such views does not do justice to the university’s excellent reputation.”       

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