Ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie refused platform at Warwick University because criticizing Islam is “hate speech”

Well, British universities are up to their usual anti-free-thought shenanigans again. This time it took the form of Warwick University’s Student Union refusing to allow Maryam Namazie to speak. Namazie, an Iranian-born ex-Muslim who runs or is active in several organizations that promote human rights and offer resources for ex-Muslims, was invited to talk by the University’s Atheist Society. The Union overruled them.

Namazie writes about it at One Law for All, quoting the following response she got from the Union:

This is because after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus.

There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy:

The President (or equivalent) of the group organising any event is responsible for the activities that take place within their events.  All speakers will be made aware of their responsibility to abide by the law, the University and the Union’s various policies, including that they:

  • must not incite hatred, violence or call for the breaking of the law
  • are not permitted to encourage, glorify or promote any acts of terrorism including individuals, groups or organisations that support such acts
  • 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
  • are not permitted to raise or gather funds for any external organisation or cause without express permission of the trustees.

In addition to this, there are concerns that if we place conditions on her attendance (such as making it a member only event and having security in attendance, asking for a transcript of what she intends to say, recording the speech) she will refuse to abide by these terms as she did for Trinity College Dublin.

This rationale is bogus. Namazie neither calls for lawbreaking nor deliberately incites hatred or violence: she criticizes Islam, largely because of its invidious attitude towards women. And the decision is hypocritical, for, as Namazie notes, a group protesting Christian attitudes against gays would surely not be refused a platform at the school for proffering “insults” and “hate speech.”

What this means is that the real issue here is not what is said, but how those who are criticized may react. Some Muslims have refined such reactions to a fine art—to the degree that one dare not speak out against their faith for fear of banning, or worse. And the “I’m offended” tactic, translated into “you’re offering hate speech”, works very well at British schools.

Here’s a small part of Namazie’s response:

The Student Union seems to lack an understanding of the difference between criticising religion, an idea, or a far-Right political movement on the one hand and attacking and inciting hate against people on the other. Inciting hatred is what the Islamists do; I and my organisation challenge them and defend the rights of ex-Muslims, Muslims and others to dissent.

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.

For my part, I’ll add that in a democracy like the U.K., we simply cannot allow legitimate criticism of religious tenets to be stifled because of the possibility it will offend people. And we cannot coddle one religious group, Muslims, while allowing criticism of others. The student union of Warwick, apparently, places a particular brand of identity politics above democracy itself.

h/t: Steve K.

98 Comments

  1. Ian Clark
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Shocking!

    • rickflick
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Disgusting!

  2. Dermot C
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    According to the local paper, The University Administration resolutely says it’s not their concern.

    http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/speaker-banned-warwick-university-over-10136555

    Germaine Greer used to work at Warwick. The same feminist who trounced William F. Buckley Jr. on the pro-feminism motion. The ironies just stack up forever.

    Free speech – the eternal game of whack-a-mole. Kudos, Jerry for having the patience to rehearse the argument. Again. x

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      “According to the local paper, The University Administration resolutely says it’s not their concern.”

      “Resolutely”? It was one line in the article: “Warwick University said the decision had not been made by them and was a matter for the students union.”

      What are they supposed to do? Interfere in student union politics? Would that even be legal? If they own the premises, they might be legally able to veto an event but they could hardly order an event to happen.

      I agree the student union are full of it but I don’t see how this can be blamed on the administration.

      cr

      • Dermot C
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        See my response to Henry at point 17 on this, infinite…

        Of course the University should have an opinion on it. At the moment not only do words fail them, but so, it appears, do thoughts.

        Warwick University, the Oblomov of academia. x

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

          Why should they? Are they supposed to be arbiters of what speech is allowed? Whatever happened to ‘free speech’?

          They may well see it as a mess into which they do not wish to venture – in which case I commend them for their wisdom.

          cr

          • Dermot C
            Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:22 am | Permalink

            infinite…, you’re perfecting the art of arguing against something I didn’t say.

            Your view amounts to this: Warwick, wisely, in my view, has no opinion on people on its campus banning free speech. The Berkeley admin jumped in to allow Bill Maher to speak, when he was banned.

            As an 18 year-old I wouldn’t go near a place as insouciant and inert as Warwick. x

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 26, 2015 at 5:12 am | Permalink

              Well, you see, I’m all in favour of people NOT interfering and leaving things fucking well alone. If you expect the administration to jump in and take sides in this, what will you say if and when they jump in on the opposing side of some other argument?

              I’m not into criticising people for failing to be busybodies.

              That said, there is _some_ evidence against Warwick, Spiked gave them an Amber for their Dignity at Warwick Policy (16 pages of bullshit in my opinion but I suppose they all have to be seen to have one) which includes: harassment includes ‘displaying material that is likely to cause offence to others’.
              http://www.spiked-online.com/free-speech-university-rankings/profile/warwick#.VgW23_lViko

              (The student union gets a Red).

              (link courtesy of Tim Davies in a later comment)

              cr

          • Filippo
            Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            I confess to being pretty much an ignoramus about how English university student unions operate. But, is the Union empowered to physically prevent Ms. Namazie from setting foot on campus? Is its powers limited to control of general meeting space and supporting funds? Is it a matter of needing to pay Ms. Namzie some reasonable honorarium, or at least expenses? If so, if the head of a science department deigned to give the sponsoring group (and Ms. Namazie cheerily opted to participate pro bono) access to its lecture halls, who is the Union to presume to override her/his decision?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 27, 2015 at 2:16 am | Permalink

              I don’t know either, but I would THINK the Student Union could only dictate what its affiliated groups do.

              If Ms Namazie turned up elsewhere on campus they would have no say in the matter.

              That’s my guess.

              • rickflick
                Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:48 am | Permalink

                Or just move the event off campus.

              • Posted September 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                If it works like it does at the universities I’ve attended, they can threaten to defund clubs that defy bylaws.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

                “If it works like it does at the universities I’ve attended, they can threaten to defund clubs that defy bylaws.”

                Probably so. But that might not apply to events held outside SU-controlled premises anyway. Depends what the by-laws say.

                cr

  3. dd
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    https://reason.com/blog/2015/09/22/wesleyan-black-lives-matter-group-vows-t

    “Wesleyan Black Lives Matter Group Vows to Punish Student Newspaper for Thoughtcrime
    Is there anything more threatening than a safe space?”

    • jay
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      while we’re at it, the UNWomen group has obviously redefined the word violence. This is a huge issue, because violence is a much nastier sounding word than ‘hearing things you don’t want to hear’. (Other than a directed personal threat, it is pretty hard to be violent over the internet)

      They are demanding that UN pressure countries to censor ISPs and search engines to censor those bad things or else be blocked from the internet. Presumably there referring to microagressions feminists don’t want to hear, I don’t know if they also want to censor speech that conservative women don’t like.

      If it seems to start gaining traction, you can be doggone sure that religionists would jump on the same wagon.

  4. Scott Draper
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the best strategy for atheist/secular groups is to set up a debate on what sorts of criticism should be tolerated in a democratic society.

    • Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Maybe, but I think that would also be playing into that very same narrative, as though all criticism or debate must be sanitized in advance, which would not be conducive to productive discourse.

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Heh, that could get meta pretty fast. “Ms. MC, the comment the opposing debate team just made is not the sort of criticism that can be tolerated in a democratic society. Please strike it from the record and prevent them from speaking in the future.”

  5. Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    College.
    Where we’re turning being a liberal from a progressive policy position into a fascistic invective!
    I’ve got to stop reading stories like this. If I SMH any more than I already am, it’s gonna just topple right off of my neck.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Maybe colleges are anticipating the time when average life expectancy will be 150 years old and so when you are in your early twenties you still need to suck your thumb.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Yeh it is getting like that.

  6. steve oberski
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Interesting.

    Yet these are the same sort of people who refer to Maajid Nawaz, who co-authored “Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue” with Sam Harris, a “porch monkey”, Sam’s “Muslim validator” and his “lapdog.”

    An now we see the same slurs being directed at Maryam Namazie.

    I saw Maryam Namazie talk at CFI Toronto a few years ago and she is nobody’s lapdog or validator and based of her recounting of what she went through in Iran after the 1979 revolution, she is one of the bravest people I have encountered.

    • Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      I think Namazie is terrific. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I discovered an essay she wrote about the perfidies of sharia, about 4 years ago.
      I certain anyone whom would refer to Nawaz or Namazie as a lapdog is unfamiliar with either of those individual’s biography.

      • Hyde_Hill
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Oh they are very familiar with their biographies. Where are talking professional journalist for Greenwald’s rag the Intercept here and other published and pretty known author’s like Lean and Blumenthal. Welcome to the wonderful world of the regressive left mindset.

    • Sastra
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’ve heard Namazie speak several times and am astonished that anyone could consider her views hateful — unless their own views are hateful, that is. She’s an excellent speaker.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. I think she’s a great speaker too. Most of the things I’ve found on YouTube are pretty poor quality though, which is annoying. Does anyone have a link to one with good quality sound?

      • Dermot C
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Namazie and, unfortunately, the increasingly demented Annmarie Waters vs. 2 Ahmadis at UCL: which if memory serves is where Krauss nearly didn’t debate Tzortsis. And where Prof. Steve Jones exasperates himself at the anti-evolution views of his Muslim students. And judging by this audience, you can see why. Good quality sound, though. x

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTYrjFE6Rcg

  7. eric
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy

    Well, I’m really beginning to hate these student Unions’ for their limitations on speech, so…

    • Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      But criticising people who criticize people is hate speech.

      And it’s turtles all the way down.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        That way madness lies, which is where we’ve arrived.

    • peepuk
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:11 am | Permalink

      What postmodernist want are “conversations in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed” (To cite Daniel Dennet).

      So, their main goal is to make the world a dull place.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        Sounds like an attempt to avoid confrontation. That’s a good idea up to a point. Taken too far it becomes dangerous.

  8. fjordaniv
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    From the Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/maryam-namazie-secular-activist-barred-from-speaking-at-warwick-university-over-fears-of-inciting-hatred-against-muslim-students-10517296.html

    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.”

    Leigh seems to have cast both logic and free speech to the wind.

    • Sastra
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Muslims feel ” intimidated” when people bring up problems with Islam because the criticisms are reasonable, not because they’re physically threatening. Valid arguments ought to intimidate those who hold poorly thought out positions. Sheesh

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        +1!

    • Saikat Biswas
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      So the student union president, a non-Muslim, now decides on behalf of all Muslims when or how they might all feel intimidated or discriminated against? Are there any other minority groups this asshole claims to represent?

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Aren’t there any Muslims upset about being portrayed as so easily offended?

    • Filippo
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . if we place conditions on her attendance (such as making it a member only event . . . .”

      What? Is Leigh afraid that the easily-offended will not be able to resist the temptation to attend and take advantage of an opportunity to be easily-offended?

      (Reminds me of the sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” holding a gun to his own head while two of his apparent multiple personalities argue back and forth.)

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Good one.

        • rufustfirefly
          Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, try to make that movie today . . .

  9. Grania Spingies
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    It seems that universities both in the USA and the UK have decided there is only one true version of Islam. That’s neither liberal nor democratic. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of rule you would get in a theocracy.

    It’s also unbelievably arrogant and unintentionally funny: a bunch of mostly non-Muslims deciding which version of Islam is the legitimate one.

  10. Posted September 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Maryam is one of the most important people in the world today. If anybody is going to succeed in carving out safe places for Enlightenment values to thrive in the Islamic world, she’s the one. She fearlessly lives and embraces those values fully and unashamedly.

    If you want to live in a world in which Islamic women trade their veils for votes, you should amplify Maryam’s voice as loudly as you yourself can.

    Warwick should be utterly ashamed for standing with the enemies of reason and for silencing such an eloquent voice of sanity.

    b&

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      Nick Cohen piece from 10 years ago: on Maryam Namazie’s biography. Eye-opening and Hirsi Aliesque in its heroism. x

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/oct/16/gender.observercolumnists

      • Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, she really does deserve to be in the spotlight at least as much as Ayaan. But Maryam isn’t afraid to call out the West for its own expressions of the same oppression as Islam imposes, which I think makes a number of people too uncomfortable to want to be seen in her company.

        …not to mention how the Islamic apologists would positively go nuclear at the mere thought of letting her anywhere near an audience….

        If 10% of Muslims had half her commitment to Enlightenment values and a quarter her courage, the Islamic would already be peacefully and prosperously modernized. Alas, few people in any society meet such a standard….

        b&

  11. Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    This is terrible. But … I do not understand what the ‘post-modernist ““Left” point of view that conflates Islam, Muslims and Islamists’. is. First, I do not understand at all what a “post-modernist” left would be, altho I know that Derrida and company claimed to be leftists. I consider myself to be leftist and have no truck whatsoever with postmodernism. And I do not conflate Islam, Muslims and Islamists. I think too many people these days adopt labels non-uniformly. The problem is very simple: How do we refer to people like us? I am very frustrated about thi subject.

    • Sastra
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I think the phrase “postmodernist Left” is meant to identify leftists who are postmodernist, not equate the two.

      Since there are also more reasonable and less reasonable versions of postmodernism, I usually modify it even further and talk about the “extremist pop postmodernist left.” Since I personally know some people who would fit that, I don’t worry too much about it being a caricature.

      • peepuk
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 3:54 am | Permalink

        Are there any right-wing versions of post-modernism?

        • jay
          Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          Definitions are so subjective, but I would think not. By definition, conservatives like to stay with what works (sometimes that is a good thing), while post modernists want to constantly throw out everything including the lessons of history.

          • Robert Bray
            Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            But don’t forget about ‘truthiness’ and the Republican notion of ‘creating our own reality.’

            • jay
              Posted September 26, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

              That’s Republicans, not conservatives ;}

        • Sastra
          Posted September 26, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          That’s a good question. I’m not sure.

          But it seems to me that conservative religionists on the Right flirt dangerously with postmodernism every time they present a presuppositional argument or just start up with the general “all beliefs are based on faith” spiel. Yes, they think they can rescue a flat universe where everything is epistemically equivalent to everything else by invoking Magic, but they’re still advocating extreme postmodernist relativism / skepticism as the most reasonable default.

          And so the circle is completed.

        • Posted September 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Fascism in its more antintellectual versions is actually the root of some aspects of postmodernism (Heidegger, for example). Another example (slightly less extreme) is the Bush administration, with their bit about “reality creation”. This is actually what got Bruno Latour, infamous “science studies” postmodern “critic” of science to be quiet for a while – he said he was amazed that he sounded like the Bush administration. This is what Sokal and others told him for years prior, but …

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 30, 2015 at 3:48 am | Permalink

            Most interesting. Thanks!

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good point. It is hard to identify people like us. I want there to be people like us, that is relatively clear cut, but it has become confused.
      I don’t know.

      • Posted September 26, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        Very well put!

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:53 am | Permalink

        I like rationalist or freethinker, for a start.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 26, 2015 at 3:54 am | Permalink

          Yes, good start, but it doesn’t really describe which side of the political spectrum we’re on though.

          I’m a leftie from way back who detests political correctness and po-mo. Also all the touchy-feelie pseudo-New-Age woo that seems to be an occupational hazard of those with a social conscience.

          Full of contradictions? So are most people I think. It tends to make ‘left’ and ‘right’ rather misleading.

          cr

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 26, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

            Your self-description matches mine…maybe rational liberal, or liberal rationalist, etc. 🙂

    • Delphin
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Post modernist first, leftist second.
      You don’t need to post modernist to be left wing. There are many examples right here on WEIT. But there are many who claim to be both. I think they bring discredit on the left, and leftists are wise to challenge them. Once again, there are many leftists right here doing that. Speaking as a non-leftist, good for them.

  12. DrBrydon
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge

    And if the group being debated considers any challenge to be insulting? Seriously, except for the last rules, these are completely subjective. Their lack of specificity gives University administrators and students ample room to challenge any political speaker whom they don’t like. How is anyone to decide “I am offended” is different from “I do not wish that person to be heard”?

  13. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    “are not permitted to encourage, glorify or promote any acts of terrorism including individuals, groups or organisations that support such acts”.

    So how do they handle religious organisations? Are they going to dismiss, say, abrahamist religious meetings because their adopted texts that “encourage, glorify or promote … acts of terrorism” and genocide?

    “And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.” Deuteronomy 2:34

    “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.” Deuteronomy 7:2

    et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

    [ http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/genocide.html ]

    I can’t see how any other organizations would get away with having such material associated with them during these student unions Auto-da-fés.

    [Perhaps they _should_ dismiss them, until such religions distance themselves from all their texts and their posited veracity. That would get my vote.]

    • rickflick
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Ah. Skeptics Annotated Bible. I love that book. It separates the wheat from the chaff and the saved from the damned.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s pretty much what I first thought too.

  14. Gary
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    There is a reason I will continue to vote Conservative for the next decade. The left-wing is making an aggressive attempt to deconstruct free society beneath our very noses.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      I have been left, radical left, feminist left, hippy left etc over the years but it is becoming extremely hard not to give a nod to the conservatives for precisely that reason. Basic freedom.

      • jay
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        I’ was a lefty in my younger years. I now realize we need to keep a balance of power. Outside of the stupid quotes that make the headlines, there is some valuable insight to be gained from thinking conservatives (and yes there are quite a few)

  15. Jonathan Dore
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    It surely wouldn’t be too hard to find evidence of an Islamic event, meeting, or group of some kind at Warwick promoting some very explicit hate speech, would it? Just needs someone at Warwick to keep their eyes open, do a little research, then write a complaint to the union formally demanding that they be banned. When the union refuses, force them to confront the contradiction until the matter’s resolved.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      Or simply an Islamic event requiring separation of the sexes.

  16. Tim Davies
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    A worrying development in the growing censorship agenda at my SU – it having also instituted bans on two popular red top newspapers and launching a campaign to have offensive wallpaper in a local bar removed: http://www.spiked-online.com/free-speech-university-rankings/profile/warwick#.VgW23_lViko

    The Union has demeaned itself by prioritising the coddling of the fragile minded over and above the critique of ideas.

  17. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that women exposing anti-feminist attitudes in religion are blocked from speaking before anyone else.

    There seems to be this idea that the poor treatment of women in Islam is OK because it’s part of the religion, although they never actually blame the religion of course, they mumble about culture. In the meantime millions of women and girls are suffering every day. As the Taliban says, for example, “It’s not yet the right time for women to be educated.”

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Heather, Sheema Kalbasi’s Iranian feminist art documentary from 2013 on the women in Islam theme. Classy, dignified and humane: worth an hour of your time. x

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=IXP8AXpPIuA

    • nightglare
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      There’s nothing wrong as such with ‘mumbling about culture’ — i.e. reminding everyone of the diversity of cultures that exist within the Islamic world. Namazie warns of the danger of homogenizing the Muslim community in the quote above. That’s not to deny that you can make general points about the treatment of women in Islam.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I agree, it is very odd. It is right there, before our eyes yet there seems a deliberate refusal to acknowledge it.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:58 am | Permalink

      Indeed!

  18. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted September 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Not that you said otherwise, but I’d like to point out that Warwick University itself is (for all I can tell to the contrary) utterly blameless here. It was the Student Union that made the decision not to invite her, and in some moods I think that making bone-headed decisions while being blind to the implications of them is what student unions are for.

    I imagine that the Atheist Society would receive funding or support from the Student Union in return for which they must abide by lame-brained rulings like this one. I also imagine that the University itself is and probably should be powerless to intervene. Maybe I’m projecting the typical Australian situation onto Britain.

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 25, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      According to the local rag, Henry, ‘Warwick University said the decision had not been made by them and was a matter for the students union.’ It’s not that the University was ‘powerless to intervene’, Henry: this report says they had nothing to say about banning a speaker. In a world’s first for academic enquiry, words fail them.

      The administration is perfectly within its rights to call out the SU on its abrogation of free speech. This supine response of the admin. backs away from a ‘teaching opportunity’ as the tiresome lingo euphemistically has it.

      And we shouldn’t make excuses for the SU, ascribing generously to them ignorance of what Namazie stands for: any sane person can spend 1 hour of their time on youtube or google to discover her real ideas. No, this ban is almost certainly influenced by Islamist hijacking of the anti-offence agenda. There is too much of a pattern and history to deny it.

      And that is not the point anyway: if everyone’s favourite insane Nazi Julius Streicher wanted to speak, he should be given a platform. x

      • Posted September 25, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        if everyone’s favourite insane Nazi Julius Streicher wanted to speak, he should be given a platform

        Hmm…I suspect that’s not the way you intended to phrase it.

        It wouldn’t be appropriate to let anybody who wanted to talk at an university do so. Well, they can join the rest of the crazies with megaphones on malls, but that’s it.

        It is appropriate for any student organization to invite anybody they like to any of the organization’s functions.

        b&

        • rickflick
          Posted September 25, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          “It is appropriate for any student organization to invite anybody they like to any of the organization’s functions.”

          Exactly. Why is the Student Union the middle man here? It seems to me the University should set a broad standard excluding speakers who are clearly advocates of immediate violence, and let it go at that. Why establish another level to interfere with the interests of student organizations?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 25, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

            The University has not (so far as has been reported) set any standard at all. Why should they?

            The University is not seeking to dictate who should or should not speak. What is so difficult about this concept? Why should they be obliged to interfere?

            cr

            • rickflick
              Posted September 26, 2015 at 7:54 am | Permalink

              Preventing advocating violent action is the standard most people would find appropriate. Giving a platform to a lynch mob would be outside the bounds.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 27, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

                That doesn’t seem to have happened here so again, why should the *University* (not the Students Union!) feel obliged to get involved?

                Not inviting a speaker is almost certainly not a disciplinary offence.

                cr

      • Henry Fitzgerald
        Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        What the university can and can’t do depends on local conditions, and I don’t know what they are in Warwick.

        But assuming they operate on the model I’m familiar with, the Student Union collects its funding from students, and then uses it to subsidise individual student societies (among other things), who in exchange for this subsidy agree to abide by union rulings, including bad ones like this.

        (Students are still free to form unsubsidised societies if they want, which are in turn free to tell the student union to take a hike. I myself help run an unsubsidised society operating from and very loosely affiliated with the Australian National University – the student union has no power over us, although depending on the current administration we usually get on with one another pretty well.)

        Having the university able to override any student union ruling rather defeats the point of having an independent student union in the first place.

        • Dermot C
          Posted September 26, 2015 at 6:28 am | Permalink

          Henry, I pointed out that the University had nothing to say about the ban on free speech: I don’t know how I can be clearer.

          As for the legal position, I don’t know either, but to keep schtum on what’s happening on your own premises is bewildering. I imagine a lot of academics aren’t happy,

          This is the nearest University to Stratford-upon-Avon, where Henry V is playing. No more unto the breach. x

          • Henry Fitzgerald
            Posted September 26, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

            I should have been clearer – I’m not defending the university’s silence on the issue. They can certainly complain and probably should.

  19. Filippo
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Bill Maher needs to have her on with Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof.

  20. Harrison
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, given that Namazie blogs at Freethought Blogs, none of her fellows to my knowledge has yet commented upon this issue. Possibly because some of them have in the past defended the no-platforming of other critics of Islam and don’t want to seem hypocritical.

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Harrison, can you explain who ‘fellows’ are, and links to how they defended no-platforming of other critics of Islam, with context? Thanks. x

      • Posted September 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        I couldn’t find any cases where they explicitly defended the non-platforming, or boycotting of critics of Islam, but it often seems to be implied. And not just critics of Islam, critics of certain feminist ideas as well. Same idea, different subject.

  21. Pat Mc Ginley
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    The main point being missed here is the political context. Criticising Islam or any religion is, of course, perfectly valid. But everyone should know that powerful vested interests have hijacked the debate about ‘free speech’, etc.
    A shameful example was the Butcher of Gaza at the head of the Charlie march in Paris.
    It is alarming that the vital role leading atheists, like Dawkins, have played in promoting evolution, etc.,is being harmed by their siding with the reactionary right-wing.

    • Posted September 27, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      But then Dawkins has not sided with the “reactionary right-wing”, has he? (Unless you take the bizarre stance that anyone criticising Islam must be part of the “reactionary right-wing”.)

  22. Mike
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    See Brian Cox has told Warwick University that he and other Academics will have nothing more to do with WU,isofar as Lecturing there or any kind of Visit for whatever reason.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      If that is the case and if it applies to the whole University (and not just the Student Union) then, finally, there’s a reason for the University administration to stick its oar in.

      But it’s a can of worms and I don’t imagine they’re happy about being dragged into it.

      cr


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