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Warwick Students’ Union reverses decision to ban human rights activist from speaking

Maryam Namazie, who was prevented from speaking at a student event

Maryam Namazie, who was prevented from speaking at a student event

Warwick University Students’ Union has announced today that it has reversed a previous decision to stop the ex-Muslim human rights activist Maryam Namazie from speaking at an event to be hosted by Warwick Atheists, Secularists, and Humanists, issuing an unequivocal apology. Warwick ASH is affiliated to the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Student Societies (AHS), the student section of the BHA; the BHA and AHS have been supporting the society since the news broke. The BHA has now reached out to the National Union of Students (NUS) about trying to stop issues like those seen in Warwick from repeating themselves.

The Warwick incident is the latest in a long line of overly censorious actions by universities and students’ unions. Other incidents in recent years include UCL Union banning a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon from appearing on a UCL AHS Facebook event poster; a talk by an anti-sharia activist at Queen Mary AHS being cancelled as a result of death threats; Reading University AHS being ejected by their Union from their freshers’ fair as a result of a pineapple being labelled ‘Mohammed’; LSE AHS being threatened with ejection from their freshers’ fair by their Union and University if they did not cover up Jesus and Mo t-shirts; and London South Bank AHS having posters taken down by their Union that featured the flying spaghetti monster.

In every case after the incident, the Union and/or University has backed down and apologised after the relevant incident.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We welcome the news that Warwick Students’ Union has reversed its decision to ban Maryam Namazie from speaking. Free speech on campus is vital, as universities have a strong tradition of dialogue and debate, where ideas can be challenged and new paradigms forged. Incitement to violence should not be permitted, but as a matter of fact Maryam is known for speaking out against the prejudices of others and so it is right she has been permitted to speak at Warwick. We look forward to working with the NUS to help to ensure that, even in the increasingly difficult regime for SU’s caused by increasing attacks on free speech on campus, challenging speakers are always welcome.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Read Warwick University Students’ Union’s announcement: http://www.warwicksu.com/news/article/warwicksu/Warwick-SU-to-host-Maryam-Namazie-as-an-External-Speaker/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion of belief.

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