Student groups side with ISOC against Maryam Namazie (Update: ISOC President resigns)

UPDATE 09/12/2015: Since the pledges of support for Goldsmiths Islamic Society (ISOC) from the Feminist and LGBT Societies, statements made by Muhammed Patel, the President of Goldsmiths ISOC, have come to light in which he refers to homosexuality as “a disease” and uses the phrase “fag lovers”.

Following this, a statement has been released by the ISOC, which says: “In light of recent allegations attributed to, Muhammed Patel, a meeting was called to discuss a motion of no confidence. Soon after Muhammad tendered his resignation and it was accepted by the committee. In the interim, the committee will appoint an acting president to serve for the remainder of the academic year”.

Earlier this week, Student Rights reported on the appalling disruption and intimidation carried out by some members of the Goldsmiths Islamic Society (ISOC) at an event featuring Maryam Namazie.

Members of the ISOC repeatedly heckled and shouted at Namazie while she gave her speech.

Several attempts were made to disrupt the event as Islamic Society (ISOC) members walked in and out of the room, switching off Namazie’s PowerPoint presentation and even turning off the lights.

A video recording of the event can be found here.

It is encouraging to see that there has been widespread outrage and press coverage over the harassment faced by Namazie, and that the Atheist, Humanist and Secular (ASH) society has reported this conduct to the university.

However, there seems to be very little solidarity on-campus with the ASH society and Namazie, with a number of student societies instead publically siding with the ISOC.

The Feminist Society released a statement in reaction to the events which said:

“Goldsmiths Feminist Society stands in solidarity with Goldsmiths Islamic Society. We support them in condemning the actions of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and agree that hosting known Islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred.”

This has been followed by similar sentiments from the LGBTQ Society, who said:

“We condemn AHS and online supporters for their islamophobic remarks and attitudes. If they feel intimidated, we urge them to look at the underpinnings of their ideology.

We find that personal and social harm enacted in the name of ‘free speech’ is foul, and detrimental to the wellbeing of students and staff on campus.”

These statements show utter contempt for freedom of speech and imply inviting ex-Muslims to appear on campus is somehow Islamophobic, as well as condoning the attempted intimidation of Namazie.

Despite the work Namazie does to promote LGBT and women’s rights around the world, these students have decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with a society whose members use intimidation to silence dissent, and which has invited speakers with a history of homophobic bigotry.

This includes those who have called homosexuality “unnatural” and “harmful”, or stated: “We don’t accept homosexuality […] we hate it because Allah hates it”.

At Student Rights we have repeatedly criticised students who have tried to stop activists like Namazie speaking, and called on Goldsmiths to discipline those responsible for acts of intimidation.

It is shameful that some supposedly progressive student societies at Goldsmiths have chosen to ignore the ISOC’s behaviour, and have instead supported the efforts of religious bullies to silence those they disagree with.

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