By banning debate on Islam, Uni of Westminster demonstrates hypocrisy of ‘freedom of speech’
London, UK February 12 2010 – University of Westminster authorities have stopped a campus discussion titled ‘Islam and Europe – Identity and Anxiety’ which was to be held between a respected Swiss academic Dr Jean-Francois Mayer and Jamal Harwood from Hizb ut-Tahrir, who has previously debated at the Oxford Union and against notable figures such as Shadow Justice Minister Dominic Grieve, Tory peer Lord Norman Lamont and representatives of the World Bank.
The event was organised following the Swiss Minaret ban and hoped to examine the fears non-Muslims have about Islam, discuss Islamic identity in Europe, the causes of the anti-Muslim climate in Europe, and answer questions to rebut myths about Islam.
However, at the eleventh hour, the University authorities, who were rumoured to be thinking of stopping the event for no other reason than the beliefs of the Muslim speaker, took the extraordinary step of banning the society that was hosting the discussion, we are told.
Commenting on this decision, Taji Mustafa from Hizb ut-Tahrir said: “We have not been given any official reason as to why the University had issues with this event but if they argue that this was about security, extremism or public order it would be completely ludicrous and impossible to believe – given the respectable nature of both speakers and given that the subject under discussion is one which most objective observers would view as constructive and valuable.”
“This sort of action from an academic institution shows that some in Britain’s intellectual class seem to be rapidly loosing faith in the West’s own secular liberal values. They are bowing to the manufactured hysteria about ‘extremism’ on campus which is being used to silence Muslims critical of a foreign policy that has worsened the national security it was claimed to improve, a foreign policy which remains the root cause of current problems. What is extraordinary is that University authorities can fall for this hysteria.”
“This incident shows the basic contradiction in the freedoms that are paraded to the world. They don’t really exist in any absolute way, and can be readily abandoned for the interests of the government policy.”
“It also illustrates that some in academia have no real belief in the secular liberal values of free speech and expression, whose advocates claim are universal human rights! There could be no better illustration of the fragile nature of these values, when they crumble so easily in the hands of an academic institution.”
“It is hard to believe that any of them expected to win hearts and minds in the Muslim community (or the Muslim world generally) for these values when they and others behave contrary to those values here in Europe.”
“However, what has started with Muslim students has also excluded a respected non-Muslim Swiss academic, and numerous other students and invitees who wanted to hear the views, proving that such actions can never be truly confined to the few.“
“By adding to the intimidating anti-Muslim climate, the University of Westminster authorities jeopardise their own lucrative income from overseas Muslim students, who may start to think twice about coming to the UK to study after stories like this break in the Arab and Muslim world media.”
“While the University of Westminster may try to defend itself from accusations of anti-Muslim prejudice by referring to its own ‘Tashkent campus’ in Uzbekistan, others may think that they are emulating the oppressive anti-Muslim policies of Uzbekistan’s odious President Karimov (who appears to have been photographed below with the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Westminster)" [http://www.wiut.uz/en/university/about/]
The discussion will now take place at
VENUE: Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LS
(Underground: Aldgate East)
DOORS OPEN: 6:30pm for 7pm start
DATE: Friday 12th February 2010