Warwick University’s student union refused to let Maryam Namazie speak at an atheist society after it accused her of being “highly inflammatory” and warned that she “could incite hatred on campus.”
The student body said it had a “duty of care” to prevent people from speaking if they disobey the union’s policies, which prohibit incitement to hatred, violence and law-breaking, or the glorification of terrorism.
Most contemptibly the union also says that speakers “must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge”, effectively blocking any criticism of religion which will always be classified as insulting by some.
Writing online about the decision, Namazie said:
“The student union position is of course nothing new. It is the predominant post-modernist ‘Left’ point of view that conflates Islam, Muslims and Islamists, homogenises the ‘Muslim community’, thinks believers are one and the same as the religious-Right and sides with the Islamist narrative against its many dissenters.
“This type of politics denies universalism, sees rights as ‘Western,’ justifies the suppression of women’s rights, freedoms and equality under the guise of respect for other ‘cultures’ imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the religious-Right. In this type of politics, the oppressor is victim, the oppressed are perpetrators of ‘hatred’, and any criticism is racist.”
Whilst Namazie said that inciting hatred “is what the Islamists do”, hating Islamists should hardly be controversial given the atrocities many of them have perpetrated, a point which appears to be lost on the student union.
Isaac Leigh, president of Warwick Student Union said:
“The initial decision was made for the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their university campus rather than in the interest of suppressing free speech.”
The double irony is that any student who feels intimidated when somebody criticises their beliefs has no place in a university, and the student union is discriminating when it chooses to protect Islam, with such censorship unlikely if a speaker wished to attack Christianity or atheism.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said:
‘This is yet another example of a student union reacting hastily to censor non-religious students and their invited guests. To think that anyone would ban Maryam Namazie from speaking on the grounds that she is a threat to students’ safety or wellbeing is simply surreal.”
Update: Following the publication of a number of articles on this subject, Leigh and the student union are backpeddling on their decision, pointing out that an appeal remains ongoing in a statement online
“Our policy has a number of stages and – whilst risks have indeed been identified – contrary to what has been communicated in the public domain over the last 24 hours, no final decision has been taken.
“To this point, neither I nor authorised senior staff members have had any involvement in the process – the next stage of which is that we review the request, determine what can be put in place to facilitate the event and then discuss this with the event organiser, whose role is integral to the process.”
As Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists president Benjamin David counters, many articles mention the fact a final decision on the appeal has not been made.
Though this piece did not allude to that fact, it was still accurate to say that Namazie’s application to speak had been rejected and thus fair to say she had been barred by the censorship-happy union.
In his statement David went on to say:
“According to the SU, the response we received from one of their members that: ‘I am afraid on this occasion we are going to have to decline authorisation for her attenfance on campus’ somehow should not be taken as a final decision – and this somehow absolves the SU from any criticism.”
“These are the facts as they stand. We will allow you to decide if the SU should be absolved from any criticism. We still hope that the SU will indeed reverse their decision.”
Either way, it does not detract from the despicable nature of the policies put in place to protect overly sensitive students from having their Dark Age creed criticised.
Image Credit – Islamist in London, February 2006 by Voyou Desoeuvre, edited by the Right Dishonourable