Maryam Namazie – a secular campaigner and founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims – has been blocked from speaking at the University of Warwick, because she “could incite hatred on campus” and “insult” religion. She has condemned the “lefties” and “post-modernist” point of view espoused by the Student Union.
Iranian-born Namazie is a feminist who opposes Islamic fundamentalism, Sharia law, gender segregation and the Burka, which she describes as a “tool used to oppress women.”
The Council of Ex-Muslims organises to assist people who leave Islam, who frequently find their lives in grave danger due to Islamic apostasy laws, which call for the murder of apostates under some interpretations.
She was invited to speak by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society. However, in a statement republish by Namazi, the Student Unions said:
“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 “speaker policy,” which they refer to, states that external speakers on campus must “seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge” and “must not spread hatred and intolerance in the community” or disrupt “social and community harmony.”
In 2012 preacher Assim Al-Hakeem spoke at Warwick. Al-Hakeem had previously called homosexuality an “illness,” “unnatural” and compared gay people to “animals.” The same year homophobic preacher Abu Usamah At-Thahabi was given a platform at the institution.
Namazie wrote in a blog post about the incident:
“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.
“It is the ‘anti-colonialist’ perspective which always unsurprisingly coincides with that of the ruling classes in the so-called ‘Islamic world’ or ‘Muslim communities’ – an understanding that is Eurocentric, patronising and racist.”
Adding: “These sort of Lefties have one set of progressive politics for themselves – they want gay rights, equality for women and the right to criticise the pope and the Christian-Right, and another for us.
“…It’s a topsy turvy world when ‘progressives’ who are meant to be on our side take a stand with our oppressors and try to deny us the only tool we have to resist – our freedom of expression.”
The National Secular Society has condemned the decision. Their spokesman Stephen Evans said in a statement:
“Universities have barely returned to a new academic term and we are already seeing attacks on free speech. It is absurd and sinister that an atheist speaker should be banned from campus for their views, and that ‘insulting other faiths’ is grounds for a speaker to be banned.
“The reasoning behind banning Maryam Namazie from speaking is the kind of muddled thinking that results in the capitulation to an Islamist agenda, which seeks to shut down all criticism of Islam.”
Benjamin David, president of Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society, wrote in his response published on the student union’s website:
“As a student of the University, I must confess that I cannot but help feel an element of embarrassment – as well as feeling that my society has been vitiated in light of the encroachment on the strong secular and free-speech principles that the society espouses.”
In March of this year Namazie was barred from speaking about apostasy and the rise of Islamism at Trinity College Dublin, as “college security” said her talk would be “one-sided” and would be “antagonizing” to “Muslim students.”
In their campus free-speech rankings released in February, the online magazine Spiked awarded the University of Warwick a “red” – their lowest ranking.
Spiked wrote that the Student Union, “has instituted bans on the Sun and the Daily Star, launched a campaign to have ‘offensive’ wallpaper in a local bar removed and banned ‘prejudiced’ entertainers from performing in the union.”