Milo Yiannopoulos has sparked outrage for calling for a Muslim group to be banned from Glasgow University.
The far-right provocateur, who has been nominated to be rector of the Russell Group institution, said he would seek to protect the LGBTQ community of students by demanding the university’s Muslim Students Association is shut down.
The former Breitbart editor, who rose to fame for his inflammatory, xenophobic views, suggested the society represented “a homophobic, theocratic system”.
Aamer Anwar, a Human rights lawyer who is a fellow nominee to be rector, condemned Mr Yiannopoulos’ position as “islamophobic”.
“The attack by Milo on Glasgow University Muslim Students Association and his call to ‘ban the Muslim Students Association’ on campus if elected is yet another example of his Islamophobic diatribe,” he said in a statement.
“No student whatever background should have to study in a climate of fear. The first thing we should all do then is condemn publicly Milo’s attack on Muslim students and stand together to defend the rights of all those at the university”.
The specified aims of the Muslim society, which is one of the largest of Glasgow University's groups, is to “provide a means for Muslims to socialise and make friends”.
While students at Glasgow will not vote on who they want to be their rector until 20 March, a hustings event is taking place at the University on Thursday, with each candidate, or a representative, declaring their position on issues and taking questions from students. Mr Yiannopoulos, who has previously described Islam as a cancer and suggested transgender people are mentally ill, is not expected to attend the event in person but students have organised a protest against his candidature.
Hollie Hallam, the Glasgow University student who launched a petition against Mr Yiannopoulos which has garnered almost 3,600 signatures, condemned the Kent-born commentator’s call for the muslim society to be banned.
Ms Hallam questioned his claim he was shutting the society down to protect the LGBTQ community. “It is absolutely not his genuine motive. His recent comments about Glasgow being full of ‘spiky-haired lesbian ‘comedians’’ and his remarks about trans people show it is not about LGBTQ students, it about islamophobia,” she told The Independent.
“I think it’s a disgusting, provocative notion and I can’t see it getting past the senate. I don’t think he is in any position to accuse anyone else of not looking out for trans rights. What’s more, LGBTQ students and Muslims are not mutually exclusive groups, there are LGBTQ Muslims.”
The decision to nominate Mr Yiannopoulos to be rector in the wake of his controversial remarks about paedophilia has sparked massive controversy, with some fellow nominees coming forward to condemn him.
Mr Yiannopoulos, who was permanently banned from Twitter in July after claims he helped lead the racist and sexist abuse of Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones, saw his career fall apart in the wake of widely circulated remarks about underage sex. In the space of days, the outspoken Trump supporter resigned from far-right publication Breitbart News and had a lucrative book deal with a prestigious publisher pulled and his appearance at Conservative Political Action conference dropped.
Mr Yiannopoulos, who recently used a university talk to publicly name and mock a transgender student, has railed against those who oppose his candidature, suggesting his “close-minded” detractors are trying to silence him because they do not agree with him. A Facebook page titled “Milo for Rector – University of Glasgow” has garnered just over 3,200 likes but it is not clear how many of its supporters are students at the university.
Although the role of rector is a largely ceremonial one, the person in the position is supposed to chair the university’s court and be the voice of students among the higher tiers of the university. The current rector is exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
If elected, Mr Yiannopoulos has pledged to organise an International Men’s Day on campus and take a “personal stand” against feminist societies at the university.
Mr Yiannopoulos also promised to visit the Scottish city a minimum of three times a year and hold events with students if he is successful. His trips are likely to be plagued with protests – his previous stops at universities in the US have often attracted heated protests.
Ms Hallam said while she thought it was unlikely for him to be nominated, it was hard to be sure. “It is always difficult to tell how these sorts of things turn out. Nobody thought Trump would get voted in and people did not think Britain would vote to leave Europe”.