University ban on Muslim comedy attacked

MUSLIM comedians have been banned from performing at a Scottish university in a move described as "ridiculous and undemocratic".

Glasgow Caledonian University backed out of hosting Allah Made Me Funny: The Official Muslim Comedy Tour this month after complaints from its Muslim students' association.

Oceanic, which organised the tour, was told by the university that the society felt the act was derogatory to the religion.

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Preacher Moss and Azhar Usman will still perform the show at Dundee University on 27 November with the full backing of its Islamic Society. Yesterday, Fozia Ali, the campaign executive with Oceanic, said she and the comics were disappointed with Glasgow Caledonian University's decision.

She said: "We are shocked that the fear of a possible student backlash from select students opposed to the event has resulted in losing the venue.

"It seems somewhat ridiculous in a democratic society, in the era of freedom of speech, that the objections of a few cause an educational institution such as Caledonian University to walk away from a contractual agreement."

A spokeswoman for Glasgow Caledonian University said: "The university's responsibility is to listen to and respect the views of all students on campus.

"When the Muslim Students' Association expressed reservations about the show, it was decided the booking would not go ahead."

Moss, an American comic and founder of Allah Made Me Funny, said he found the situation sad and criticised the society for not entering into dialogue. He said: "No-one from this organisation has bothered to reach out to us in a way that is mature and, more specifically, Islamically appropriate.

"I would challenge those particular members of this organisation to speak to us and share information or gather information about us and this tour."

Abdallah El-Awaisi, the president of the Dundee University Islamic Society, had no concerns about the event.

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He said: "It is one of the best shows I have seen in a long time and there is nothing in it that I have heard or seen that is offensive to the religion.

"It is comedy from an Islamic perspective that is not just for Muslims, but for everyone, and that's why we are showing it as part of our Islam awareness week at the university.

"We want to show the comic side of Islam and show that it is not just a serious religion."

Dates at Glasgow Royal Concert Halls on 26 November and at Napier University in Edinburgh on 28 November are also expected to go ahead.