The Department for Education might allow Christian propaganda, but it doesn’t demand it

Leamington Church, February 2014 by barnyz

Much hullabaloo erupted on Monday over the education secretary Nicky Morgan’s policy update on religious teaching in schools, which swatted atheists aside whilst pushing Christianity to the fore.

Morgan was forced to revise the policy following a court ruling in November that found atheism, humanism and other non-religious views were being excluded unlawfully from the religious studies curriculum at GCSE level.

The resultant updates have since led to some amusing headlines from newspapers both sympathetic and hostile to faith-heads, which on first sight would lead one to believe the Tories are launching some mass Christian propaganda exercise.

Continue Reading

Keith Vaz has ‘no problem’ with blasphemy laws so long as applied ‘equally’

Keith Vaz, February 2011 by daliscar1

In a move that will please the religious right as well as egalitarians, it seems Home Affairs Committee chair Keith Vaz is open to blasphemy laws being brought back onto the books, so long as they protect the butthurt of all religious cranks “equally”.

Speaking after the subject of blasphemy was discussed by the Muslim Council of Britain last week, Vaz flip-flopped from one side of the debate to the other, first seemingly supporting the laws before backtracking.

Continue Reading

Warwick SU’s mistake was not the Namazie ban, but that it rejects hatred, insult and intolerance

Maryam Namazie, January 2015 by Anders Henrikson

One can only imagine the atmosphere at the cretinous Warwick Student Union as it decided to overturn a decision to block the anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking at the university.

Since the story broke in the press, Isaac Leigh, president of the union, has hidden behind the claim that no “final decision” had been made on the refused application, the matter having been subsequently appealed by Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, the club arranging Namazie’s visit. He therefore had little choice but to flip-flop.

Of course by Leigh’s logic a court that has convicted a criminal has also made no “final decision” on whether he is guilty – though that will not stop the perp being carted off the jail in the meantime. The fact is that in an email to Benjamin David, president of the atheist society, the student union had clearly declined her application, with no intimation this decision was likely to change.

Perhaps Leigh was always intending to reverse this policy, and is a stern advocate of liberalism, free thought and rigorous debate. But if so the president of Warwick Student Union must surely be planning to revise the squalid rules that were used to justify Namazie’s exclusion, which stipulate a speaker:

  • Must not spread hatred and intolerance in the community and thus aid in disrupting social and community harmony
  • Must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge

How exactly one is supposed to criticise something without accepting a risk of insult is unclear. And why one wouldn’t wish to insult, hate and reject some religious practices – the more charming of which include homophobic abuse, maiming of children’s genitals and rejection of modern medicine – is still more mysterious.

Given the behaviour of the student union, and indeed Warwick’s pedigree as a leftwing university, one suspects the union would not have combated insults, hatred and intolerance directed against the Westboro Baptist Church with the same zeal with which they sought to protect Islam, certain adherents of which are even now terrorising the Middle East in the name of their god.

Hate speech remains a crime in Britain, though the law is roughly enforced and provides caveats for criticism of religion. Perhaps Warwick’s student union is just supporting the law, though again one suspects that if this were not the law a similar policy would still stand at the university.

Ultimately the failure at Warwick was not that it blocked Namazie from speaking, but that such policies that could exclude her from speaking existed in the first place. Spiked and the Spectator have already chronicled the spread of censorship at university campuses, and for this there has been little apology from the so-called Stepford students who dominate many student bodies.

Until that attitude changes, student unions will continue to censor dissent and sanitise debate. That certainly should not be tolerated.

Image Credit – Maryam Namazie, January 2015 by Anders Henrikson

Student union bars ‘highly inflammatory‘ anti-Islamist campaigner

Islamist in London, February 2006 by Voyou Desoeuvre

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