Victory
Petitioning Warwick Students Union

Allow Maryam Namazie to speak at The University of Warwick

Warwick Students Union have made the appalling decision to bar Maryam Namazie from giving a talk on campus to Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. For those unfamiliar with Maryam, she is a secularist, a human-rights campaigner, and leader of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

A student union official said the decision had been taken “because after researching both her [Namazie] and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised”.

It went on: “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 campu

The restriction of free-thought and non-violent free-speech is the most dangerous of all subversions - a subversion that is only amplified in light of the fact that Maryam has always campaigned against violence and discrimination and has done so passionately for many years - something that should have been taken on board when the SU's assessment was made. Maryam often describes the true facts concerning her own experiences and those of people she works with in relation to radical forms of Islam - not all forms of Islam, just those pernicious, radical strands of the religion - things that most peaceful Muslims would also condemn. I must profess that if those facts are an incitement of hatred - which I most definitely believe they are not - then the solution is to change the way people are treated in certain faith communities, not to insist Maryam lie about her life through censorship. As Maryam stated in her blog:

"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."

And, what is more: 

"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."

The infringement of free-speech is becoming insidiously ubiquitous, and many universities, including Warwick, are circumventing the freedom of speech in pursuit of inoffensive, sanitary narratives.

As secularists and defenders of free-speech - revering the intellectual suffusion of ideas and dialectics - we need to show solidarity in order to construct a truly formidable voice of opposition against such ludicrous strands of censorship. This petition has the potential of bolstering our voice. Please sign and please share. Lest we forget: “censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship” (George Bernard Shaw)

-Benjamin David 
(President of Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists)

The story has been covered by the Guardian, The Independent, and via The National Secular Society

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