An Iranian human rights activist who has described Islam as a “totalitarian global threat” has had her speaking engagement at Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) cancelled. Refusal to comply with a unique set of restrictions not placed on other speakers, including proponents of Sharia law, was the reason given. Maryam Namazie, who regularly receives death threats for speaking out against Islamists, was due to give a talk to the university’s Society for International Affairs (SOFIA) on Monday titled: Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism. But the event was cancelled when she refused to comply with last minute restrictions, including limiting the audience to Trinity College students who are also members of the society and the addition of a moderator to add “balance” to the proceedings.
SOFIA has since tried to distance itself from the cancellation of the event, claiming that Ms Namazie pulled out following a “miscommunication” over the rules on speakers. Aoife McLoughlin-Ngo, the chair of SOFIA even sought to claim that none of SOFIA’s events are open to an outside audience, though she herself had posted a link to the event on Facebook just days earlier stating: “Hey guys, there are 2 event pages – the page I’m linking is open to people outside of SOFIA Members page.”
Ms Namazie is adamant that the college deliberately blocked her appearance to appease Muslim students who may be offended by the contents of her speech.
“I’ve just been informed that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students” she wrote on her blog on last Friday. “They threatened to cancel my talk [unless the conditions are met].
“I, however, will not be submitting to any conditions, particularly since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers.
“I intend to speak on Monday as initially planned without any restrictions and conditions and ask that TCD give me immediate assurances that I will be able to do so.”
The College did not give those assurances and the event was cancelled. Their refusal to do so is all the more astonishing in light of the fact that only last month, on 25th February, Kamal El Mekki was given a platform to speak at the university at an event co-hosted by the TCD Muslim Students Association and the Irish branch of the al-Maghrib Institute, which promotes Salafist Islam on campuses across the world.
Questions were raised with the college’s Central Societies Committee over the suitability of El Mekki as a speaker as he has in the past advocated the use of the death penalty for apostates and stoning of adulterers. When the Committee was shown a video of El Mekki explaining his views, Ms Namazie says they responded that they “could not see why there can even be a discussion about cancelling the event” and that his video was simply “explanatory and not advocatory”.
His event was allowed to go ahead without the restrictions that the university sought to impose on Ms Namazie.
“It is unsettling because these people are given free access to a campus, while those who oppose violence and speak out against the violation of rights of non-Muslims and Muslims alike have restrictions placed on them,” Ms Namazie told independent.ie
“If you criticise the Islamist movement, which is a far right political movement, you are seen as attacking ordinary Muslims – and this is not the case. Muslims are not a homogenous group. If you criticise the English Defence League, you’re not attacking the English.
“It is no surprise why we see so many young people turn to ISIS when no discussion is allowed to take place without concerns that Islamists might be offended.”
She has vowed to speak at the university and has said on her blog that she is currently in discussion with a number of other societies on how this might be achieved.
In a separate incident, the hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been invited to speak at Oxford University despite being on bail under suspicion of belonging to banned terrorist groups. He has been sent a letter by the Oxford union debating society inviting him to speak on the motion: “This house believes that radicalism is born at home.”
According to the Daily Mail, the students wrote that it would be a “great privilege” to have Mr Choudary appear as the “star speaker”, and gave him a choice of dates on which to do so.
Yesterday Mr Choudary brandished the letter before the Houses of Parliament, crowing: “I am still on police bail after being arrested by Scotland Yard in September last year. But the police can’t stop me from speaking. They can’t stop me from going to the Oxford Union where I’ve been invited to speak.”