An open forum organised by Sydney University Muslim Students’ Association, SUMSA, last month had to be postponed in the wake of media hysteria against Mr Uthman Badr.
The event “Grill a Muslim” was to be held on Thursday 11 September at the University of Sydney main campus as part of the Islamic Awareness Week in order to remove misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims. The panel to answer questions included Sheikh Wesam Charkawi and Mr Badr.
SUMSA president, Ziyad Serhan has alleged that The Daily Telegraph had previously contacted the Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence and threatened to run a front page report on the day of the event highlighting that the University was allowing Mr Uthman Badr to speak at the campus.
Mr Serhan told AMUST that he received a phone call from Dr Spence on the eve of the event showing his concern over Mr Badr’s inclusion in the panel and told that the event could go ahead but
without Mr Badr in the panel.
After consultation with the SUMSA Shura (committee), it was decided to postpone the event and post a statement regarding the issue on its website, part of which reads as follows:
“We are disappointed with the atmosphere of fear-mongering surrounding Muslim speakers, and we believe this decision does not help diffuse the situation. We do however accept that it is in the best interests of the University at this time to postpone the event, and wish to work collaboratively with the Union to ensure both student harmony and free intellectual discussions are both promoted on campus. We look forward to a time where we can speak about such topics without being subjected to partial criticism before given the chance to speak”.
Mr Uthman Badr has a long association with the University of Sydney having obtained his degree in economics from there and served as SUMSA president and member of its Shura for a number of years. He has been an accomplished Khateeb, leading Juma, Friday congregational prayers and a popular speaker at the campus on a regular basis.