Maryam Namazie talk disrupted by students

UPDATE 02/12/2015: Goldsmiths ISOC published a statement denying any wrong doing by their members. They claim their members “peacefully expressed their dissent to the disrespectful cartoons” and were in fact subject to “abuse” and “violence” from the Atheist Society. The ISOC once again accused Namazie of being an “Islamophobe” a claimed her presence on campus helps “create a climate of hatred and bigotry towards Muslim students.”

Last month, Student Rights reported on the successful overturning of Maryam Namazie’s ban from the University of Warwick.

Yesterday evening, Namazie gave a speech at Goldsmiths College, which we are pleased to report went ahead without student union attempts to prevent her from speaking.

However, a minority of students took it upon themselves to try and shut down the debate with acts of intimidation and repeated harassment.

In a blog post, Namazie described how events unfolded:

“After my talk began, ISOC “brothers” started coming into the room, repeatedly banging the door, falling on the floor, heckling me, playing on their phones, shouting out, and creating a climate of intimidation in order to try and prevent me from speaking.I continued speaking as loudly as I could. They repeatedly walked back and forth in front of me. In the midst of my talk, one of the ISOC Islamists switched off my PowerPoint and left. The University security had to intervene and remain in the room as I continued my talk.Eventually the thug who had switched off my PowerPoint returned and continued his harassments. At this point, I stood my ground, screamed loudly and continued insisting that he be removed even when the security said he should stay because he was a student. When he was finally escorted out of the meeting, discussions on many issues from apostasy, the veil to Islamism and Sharia laws continued, including with some of the ISOC “sisters” who remained behind.”

Prior to the event, Goldsmiths’ Islamic Society (ISOC) had already signaled its “deep concern[s]” about Namazie speaking on campus, labelling her an “Islamophobe”, and in a statement said:“We feel such an individual will violate our safe space, and are disappointed that someone so controversial has been given a platform.”

The intimidation and harassment alleged by Namazie shows the hypocrisy of ISOC members, suggesting their desire for ‘safe spaces’ does not extend to speakers they disagree with.

Their newly found fondness for the concept is also surprising, as in the past they haven’t shied away from inviting extreme or intolerant speakers onto campus.

Previous invitations to Sulieman Ghani, who has called homosexuality “unnatural” and “harmful”, and Uthman Lateef, who has said: “We don’t accept homosexuality […] we hate it because Allah hates it” suggest no regard for the ‘safe space’ of LGBT students.

This outrageous reaction to Namazie’s visit highlights a worrying trend of students trying to silence views they find objectionable, and is not the first time we have reported on the disruption of ex-Muslim or atheist events.

Student Rights urges Goldsmiths College to fully investigate and discipline those students responsible for the repeated harassment of Namazie during her presentation, and to make it clear that such behavior is utterly unacceptable.

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