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US: Muslim college students enraged over invite of controversial Muslim personality

Muslim students in New York are criticising both Daniel Haqiqatjou and student leadership for inviting him despite his 'misogynist' views
Daniel Haqiqatjou has a YouTube channel titled "The Muslim Skeptic" where he talks about various issues.
Daniel Haqiqatjou has a YouTube channel called "The Muslim Skeptic" (Screengrab)

The invitation of influential Muslim personality Daniel Haqiqatjou to colleges in New York has sparked outrage among their Muslim students, with many calling on the leadership of the Muslim Student Associations (MSA) to “re-evaluate” their principles.

Several students told Middle East Eye they were dismayed after learning that Haqiqatjou was slated to speak at their university for an event on gender roles and marriage, saying that he has a history of "misogynistic" comments and has spoken condescendingly towards women.

Haqiqatjou was invited to Farmingdale State College (FSC) in Long Island on 27 April by its MSA to lead an event titled, “The roles of Men and Women in Islam: Talk on how to live the best life as a Muslim and marriage.”

The event was a collaboration with two other MSAs, including Long Island University (LIU) Post and SUNY Old Westbury. He was also invited to a Queens College event discussing gender later that same day. 

A day before the FSC event, the LIU Post MSA pulled out. In a statement on Instagram, the group wrote, “Thank you to everyone for voicing their concerns. At this moment, we have decided not to be involved with the upcoming event with the guest speaker due to a conflict of interest.”

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“The speaker at the event does not align with the morals and values of LIU Post MSA. We apologise to anyone who is upset by this as we were not aware of the situation beforehand.”

A member in the leadership position of the FSC MSA took to the student organisation's Whatsapp group to say the group was “unaware of the controversy and accusations of the guest speaker”. 

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She added that “due to the time contractions” they were unable to cancel the event. She said that they will not tolerate any “disrespect on either side”.

“There are hundreds of legitimate people educated on Islam, the MSA could have invited to speak at their event," a female student from FSC who did not want to be named, told Middle East Eye. "This is a man who has publically insulted women. He is most definitely a misogynist. He has said women don't deserve an education."

She said that inviting Haqiqatjou was wrong and that the MSAs should apologise. But she said she believes they will do no such thing because "these are the men and women we are putting in charge of our MSAs”.

MEE reached out to Haqiqatjou and asked him to comment on the pushback he has received for participating in these events. He responded by saying: “I am an innocent man!”

Both events ended up being live-streamed on Instagram. The Queens College MSA blocked users from comments after the stream was inundated with criticism.

Middle East Eye reached out to Farmingdale State College, LIU Post, and SUNY Old Westbury MSA for comment, but they did not respond.

Misogynistic insults

Students on social media argued that Haqiqatjou is not qualified to speak about gender dynamics. Haqiqatjou, who has 275,000 followers on his Youtube channel, "The Muslim Skeptic", and over 48,000 followers on Twitter, has likened women getting an education to prostitution.

“You think if Muslim countries allowed women to get indoctrinated, er, I mean, educated in colleges, they would leave us alone?” Haqiqatjou wrote.

“They won't stop sanctioning, pressuring, bombing until your daughters are having sex with 10 men on Onlyfans. Yes. Anything less than that is not acceptable! Anything less than that is a violation of women's rights!”

On 30 January, he tweeted, “Send your little Muslim daughter to college so that, not only she becomes a well-used object, but she facilitates that for others as well.”

'The College must uphold the right of free speech'

- Queens College representative 

He has also argued that the Prophet Muhammad neither taught “unlimited” kindness to women nor was he a “simp". A simp is a slang term referring to men who are seen as attentive or submissive to women.

“He wasn’t a simp. He also didn’t molly-coddle women due to a misplaced idea of hikma (wisdom) or rahma (compassion). He was the best to women. That’s exactly why he told them to fear Allah and get their act together. Simps call it harshness,” Haqiqatjou said in a tweet that has been deleted. 

When MEE asked Queens College if they were aware of the event taking place and the controversy surrounding it, the college said it is the students' right to invite whatever speaker they choose.

“From time to time, campus groups such as registered student organisations invite speakers to Queens College. As a public institution, the college does not and cannot control the content of the speech, nor will the administration bar a speaker on the basis of the anticipated substance of their remarks,” a representative of the college said.

“While speeches given on campus do not necessarily reflect the views and values of the college community, the college must uphold the right of free speech and the rights of students to invite speakers in order to hear diverse points of view.”

'Re-evaluating Islamic principles' at MSA

The decision to host Haqiqatjou has also riled up alumni. Abdallah, a former Queens College student who took part in the MSA and didn’t want his last name used, told MEE that he was angry that Haqiqatjou was invited, but not surprised.

“It speaks more about the leadership we have at our MSAs. These are people who are huge fans of men like Haqiqatjou. Of men like Andrew Tate. I am not saying they are both the same in any regard, but it just speaks to what kinds of role models we have now,” he said.

He added that Haqiqatjou was someone that has a negative impact on the community. While he believes that Haqiqatjou should not have been invited and the event should have been cancelled, he believes that young Muslims, especially those in leadership positions in colleges, should be re-taught Islamic principles. 

“The principles of these young men and women in these MSAs should be re-evaluated. It all goes back to Islamic principles, right?” he said. 

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“How are you going to be leaders of a Muslim group on campus where young Muslims go to feel comfortable and invite people like Haqiqatjou who has slandered respected scholars? Who has talked badly of our women? How is that in any way ok?”

While some people at the event did not want to speak to MEE on the record, one man did say on Instagram that it was a beautiful programme and responded, “Truth hurts guys” when a woman accused Haqiqatjou of “spreading propaganda”.

A woman who currently attends Queens College told MEE that once she had heard of the event, she knew she could not attend it. 

“My friends and I were outraged. While I myself didn’t bring it up to the leadership, I heard that some other people did. But it was no use because the MSA leadership clearly did not budge,” she said. 

“Moving forward, we need to be mindful of who we are electing to represent us at our MSAs. People like Haqiqatjou should not have been considered to be invited, let alone actually show up at our college.”

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