Maryam Namazie of the One Law For All campaign was meant to speak at a Warwick University Atheist Society event on October 28 but the student union there has declined the request to have her speak. The Society is appealing. Here is Maryam
Namazie's statement on it:
I was invited to speak at Warwick University by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists' Society on 28 October 2015. The University Student Union has declined the request for me to speak saying the following:
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.
The Atheist group is of course appealing their decision, however, it's important for me to comment briefly on the Student Union's position. I will be writing a more detailed letter to the university to formally complain about the Student Union
accusations against me after taking legal advice.
For now, though, suffice it to say that criticising religion and the religious-Right is not incitement of hatred against people. If anything, it's the religious-Right, namely Islamism in this case, which incites hatred against those of us who
dare to leave Islam and criticise it.
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.
A decision to ban a speaker from Warwick University , citing fears she may offend Muslim students, has been reversed.
A statement published on the Warwick University Student's Union website on Sunday evening offered an unequivocal apology to Ms Namazie. It read:
In the last few days we have all seen much debate, and considerable concern, expressed about an application to Warwick Students' Union made by the Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, that an SU society host the campaigner and
blogger Maryam Namazie as an external speaker.
Warwick SU has a process for assessing any potential risks or legal issues associated with any external speaker, and it is now very clear to us that in this case that process has not been followed. Speaker invitations that may involve such
issues are routinely considered by the SU President, who will also take advice from senior SU staff.
This did not happen on this occasion. Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been. This is a significant error for which there can be no excuse.
We want to assure everyone of Warwick Students' Union's continued commitment to free speech.
We also want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who has expressed concern, or disappointment, or who has been hurt by this significant error and, as we said above, we will be issuing a full and unequivocal apology to Maryam
Offsite Comment: If Islamists can speak on campus, why can't I?
On 8 October, the Acting Editor for Comment is Free wrote to say a "very light edit" had been done on my article including "a few tweaks for flow, house style, and to make the piece as accessible as possible for non-expert
Shockingly, the "light edits" included substantial changes, including the removal of references to Ali Shariatmadari and CAGE prisoners as well as all the relevant links, which would have helped "non-expert readers."
Satirical art using children's toy characters from the Sylvanian Families to mock Islamic State (ISIS) has been banned from a freedom of speech exhibition over fears of muslim violence.
The work was censored from the schedule at the Passion for Freedom exhibition at London's Mall Galleries after police raised serious concerns about the possibility of a terrorist atrocity against visitors. Police feared crazed
jihadis would take offence and launch a reprisal attack in response to the heavily mocking artwork.
Officers told exhibition organisers they would have to pay £36,000 to hire extra security if the piece was displayed, forcing the gallery to remove it from display.
The works mocked the Islamist fanatics by showing them lurking in the background of ordinary family scenes depicted as characters from the popular Sylvanian Families toy set. A description for the piece, called ISIS Threaten Sylvania, said:
Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquillity.
MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hard-line version of sharia law.
The decision provoked outrage from both the artist, Mimsy, and people online, who said the terrorist group should not be able to dictate what the British public can see. Mimsy said:
I love my freedom. I'm aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I'm not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.
Author Ben Goldacre tweeted:
Dear The British Police, I want you to protect free speech from violence, maybe spend less time on cannabis smokers?
Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said:
Concerns over terror are being inflated to such an extent that perfectly legitimate, non-criminal expression, is being shut down across Britain: from university campuses, to theatre stages, to art galleries. The upcoming extremism bill could
worsen the situation further. In the case of the Sylvanian Families exhibit, we need to do more to ensure that police work with venues to promote freedom of expression, not stifle it.
The US rapper Tyler, the Creator says he has been banned from the UK because of the nature of his lyrics. The Odd Future co-founder recently cancelled four dates including an appearance at Reading/Leeds and tweeted that it was because the
authorities were unhappy with his subject matter.
His manager, Christian Clancy, went into more detail on his Tumblr, saying
Tyler has been banned from entering the UK for somewhere between 3 to 5 years per a letter from the secretary of state for the home department of the UK. The letter specifically cites lyrics he wrote 6-7 years ago for his albums Bastard and
Goblin , the type of lyrics he hasn't written since. Highlights from the letter include that his work encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality and fosters hatred with views that seek to provoke others to terrorist
Earlier this month Tyler cancelled the Australian leg of his world tour after a feminist group launched a petition to have him denied a visa to enter the country. The group, Collective Shout, cited objections to lyrics that include references to
rape and violence against women, as well as historic behaviour on earlier tours.
Complaints about Tyler seem to stem largely from songs on his self-produced 2009 mixtape Bastard, which includes lines such as you call this shit rape but I think that rape's fun as well as references to raping Goldilocks and committing
suicide. Most of that record was written when Tyler was a teenager and he has since written about how he's moved on from the sentiments expressed on it.
Comment: Once you start banning rappers like Tyler, the Creator, where do you stop
Internet censors at the UK's Information Commissioner's Office have ordered Google to censor links to recent news articles that highlight censorship under Europe's 'right to be forgotten'.
The censors have ordered the removal of nine links to current news stories about right to be forgotten censorship that effectively re-connect to information ordered 'forgotten'.
The search engine had previously removed links relating to a 10 year-old criminal offence by an individual after requests made under the right to be forgotten ruling. Removal of those links from Google's search results for the claimant's name
spurred new news posts detailing the removals, which were then indexed by Google's search engine.
Google refused to remove links to these later news posts, which included details of the original criminal offence, despite them forming part of search results for the claimant's name, arguing that they are an essential part of a recent news story
and in the public interest.
Google now has 35 days from the 18 August to censor the links from its search results for the claimant's name. Google has the right to appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber against the notice.
Deputy chief censor David Smith said:
The European court ruling last year was clear that links prompted by searching on an individual's name are subject to data protection rules. That means they shouldn't include personal information that is no longer relevant.
We understand that links being removed as a result of this court ruling is something that newspapers want to write about. And we understand that people need to be able to find these stories through search engines like Google. But that does not
need them to be revealed when searching on the original complainant's name.
Labour's Tessa Jowell has put political correctness at the heart of her political campaign seeking election as the Mayor of London. She says she'll ban adverts that she considers 'sexist' from the tube.
She said Transport for London would be made to draw up tougher guidelines than at present:
Women ought to be able to travel in an environment which doesn't constantly demean them or present an unrealistic image of women's bodies.
A play exploring the motives behind radicalised young people joining Islamic State has been cancelled less than a fortnight before its opening night, with the creators claiming the voices of the young cast have been silenced .
Homegrown , a National Youth Theatre (NYT) production, was closed down with the creators saying they were given no prior warning. Director Nadia Latif and playwright Omar El-Khairy believe the production was cancelled due to external
pressures, claiming both local authorities and police got involved during the development of the play. Latif said:
There was no warning. We got an email on Thursday night saying the show was cancelled, rehearsals are done, and the cast were told on Friday morning. And that was really a sucker punch, not least because we didn't see it coming at all. There
must have been some extraordinary external pressure to cancel the production to justify that emotional trauma on a cast of 112 young people.
The play had a cast of 112 people aged between 15 and 25 who were mostly from ethnic minorities. It was originally due to take place in a school in Bethnal Green linked to the case of schoolgirls Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase who
travelled to Syria to become jihadi brides. The play looked at this emotive issues of jihadi brides and attitudes towards Islam in the UK.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) of Northern Ireland have defended their prosecution of James McConnell, the Christian preacher who called Islam Satanic.
In a letter sent to the National Secular Society, the PPS have doubled-down on their decision to take the case to trial, after the NSS warned that their actions had created a chilling effect on free speech. A Christian organisation warned
that many churches will be wary of what they place on the internet until this case is heard and the law is clarified.
Pastor McConnell is being prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003 for sending a grossly offensive message. The Pastor said during a sermon that Islam was a doctrine spawned in hell and that while there may be good
Muslims in the UK, he didn't trust Muslims generally.
In response to a letter of concern written by the National Secular Society urging the PPS to reconsider its course of action, the Prosecution Service have claimed that their controversial decision is in the public interest , and have vowed
to press on despite a raft of criticism from Christian groups, the National Secular Society and an imam, Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, who said he strongly upholds the moral right of Pastor McConnell and myself, as Christian and Muslim, to disagree
about matters of doctrine and belief.
The PPS added in their response to the National Secular Society that they had balanced the relevant public interest considerations in their treatment of the case, but that due to the gravity of the preacher's sermon and the circumstances of the offence and the offender
they were right to deal with the matter by way of an informed warning.
Pastor McConnell rejected this warning, which would have remained on his criminal record for 12 months, and this led to the case proceeding to trial at the PPS's insistence.
Extraordinarily, the complaint about McConnell's sermon reportedly came from Dr Raied Al-Wazzan, who recently praised the Islamic State and said that Mosul had become the most peaceful city in the world under IS rule. You can go from
east to west of the city without fear, he claimed. Al-Wazzan is now described as the main prosecution witness in the case against McConnell.
There has been widespread condemnation of the PPS's actions, but Assistant Director Michael Agnew wrote that he remained of the view that the evidence Test for Prosecution is met and that a prosecution was justified given that McConnell
has refused to accept the warning.
NSS campaigns manager Stephen Evans said:
This baffling decision to persist with the prosecution of Pastor McConnell represents a reckless and grievous encroachment upon his - and everybody else's - fundamental right to free expression.
In our view Pastor McConnell was well within his rights to refuse a warning that would have remained on his criminal record for a year, particularly given that he clearly did not incite violence in his sermon and the PPS do not even appear to
claim that he did. Given that, the PPS's behaviour seems even more extraordinary.
Whatever the outcome of this case, the actions of the Public Prosecution Service are likely to have a chilling effect on everyone's freedom to speak openly about their beliefs.
In an open and free society, we should all feel able to express our beliefs and opinions without fear of criminal sanction - regardless of how unpalatable others may find them.
The weapon of 'offense' is increasingly being used to stifle free expression. The desire to live in a harmonious and tolerant society is a noble one, but will not be achieved by the suppression of fundamental freedoms.
We again urge the PPS to drop this case and issue a full apology to Mr. McConnell.