Why are Goldsmiths’ FemSoc and LGBTQ Society showing solidarity with Islamists who attempt to silence and intimidate a feminist speaker?
When Islamist attempt to silence a feminist human rights campaigner speaking at a university, the universitys’ Feminist Society come out fighting… on the side of the Islamists!
Earlier this week Maryam Namazie was giving a speech on blasphemy and apostasy at the invitation of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) at Goldsmiths University when several men from the Goldsmiths Islamic Society (ISOC) arrived and started to disrupt and shut down the debate.
These aggressive actions of the ISOC have been defended by both Goldmsiths’ LGBTQ Society and Feminist Society.
Here is the statement by Goldsmiths FemSoc:
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.
We showed our support on our Facebook page by sharing ISOC’s post with a message of solidarity. Our Facebook page is designed as a space for us to communicate with our members, and their safety is our first priority, under the policies set out by our Student Union. We reserve the right to remove comments and posts that violate these terms or contribute to the marginalisation of students.
The ISOC themselves have previously objected to censorship and intimidation on campus. But their recent history is rather murky. Back in 2009 Goldsmiths’ ISOC invited Shakeel Begg (a chaplain for the Lewisham and Kent Islamic Centre) to speak at its annual dinner. In 2006 The Times reported that Begg had previously told students at Kingston University, ‘You want to make jihad? Very good [...] Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists.’
In June 2014 Goldsmiths’ ISOC held an event in support of Cage Prisoners, an organisation that has been accused of extremism. Indeed their director Moazem Begg, advocates ‘defensive Jihad’, while their Research director Asim Qureshi previously described Mohammed Emwazi (AKA ‘Jihadi John’) as ‘a beatiful young man’.
Their have also been issues surrounding President of Goldsmiths’ ISOC, Mohammed Patel. His posts on social media seem to suggest he may be a fan of homophobic preacher Haitham al-Haddad. It’s clear here that Haitham al-Haddad views are everything any liberal or progressively-minded individual would find abhorrant.
It is unhelpful for any group to ask for favorable treatment. Societies can only progress when different views are debated without intimidation. Universities are the best institutions to foster this.
Patel’s complaints about the double-standards on free-speech on campus make his intimidatory actions towards Maryam Nawazie downright hypocritical.
Goldsmiths’ LGBTQ Society too put out a statement that critised the actions of the ASH for inviting Ms Namazie, and expressed solidarity with the ISOC. Here is a passge from their statement:
In our experiences, members of ISOC have been nothing but charming, patient, kind, and peaceful as individuals and as an organization.
…Last February, Goldsmiths’ ISOC invited Hamza Tzortzis to speak on campus. This is a man who links homosexuality to “sexual abuse of children, polyandry and cannibalism”.
My question is, why are Goldsmiths’ LGBTQ Society and Feminist Society attacking an ex-Muslim, Iranian minority female like Maryam Namazie — who relentlessly champions the very values they claim to uphold?
Why are they siding with an organisation that tried to silence free-speech, and has promoted speakers who’s views go against everything they claim to stand for?
These feminists and LGBT rights activists are not fighting for the right that views they despise should still be aired. They are fighting to censor and silence the questioning and critiquing of views that an anathema to their values — homophobia, sexism, authoritarianism. Not only is it illiberal, it is perplexing.
Below is the video of Ms Nawazie’s speech, which the university’s Student Union has attempted to take down. Here it’s outlined why it should not be taken down and should be shared instead.
Below i’ve reproduced part of a post from Maryam Namazie’s blog. This was written after she was barred from speaking at Warwick University by The University’s Student Union. I feel it too is important to share.
For now, though, suffice it to say that criticising religion and the religious-Right is not incitement of hatred against people. If anything, it’s the religious-Right, namely Islamism in this case, which incites hatred against those of us who dare to leave Islam and criticise it.
The Student Union seems to lack an understanding of the difference between criticising religion, an idea, or a far-Right political movement on the one hand and attacking and inciting hate against people on the other. Inciting hatred is what the Islamists do; I and my organisation challenge them and defend the rights of ex-Muslims, Muslims and others to dissent.
The Student Union position is of course nothing new. It is the predominant post-modernist “Left” point of view that conflates Islam, Muslims and Islamists, homogenises the “Muslim community”, thinks believers are one and the same as the religious-Right and sides with the Islamist narrative against its many dissenters.
It is the “anti-colonialist” perspective which always unsurprisingly coincides with that of the ruling classes in the so-called “Islamic world” or “Muslim communities” — an understanding that is Eurocentric, patronising and racist.
This type of politics denies universalism, sees rights as ‘western,’ justifies the suppression of women’s rights, freedoms and equality under the guise of respect for other ‘cultures’ imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the religious-Right. In this type of politics, the oppressor is victim, the oppressed are perpetrators of “hatred”, and any criticism is racist.
These sort of Lefties have one set of progressive politics for themselves — they want gay rights, equality for women and the right to criticise the pope and the Christian-Right, and another for us.
We are not worthy of the same rights and freedoms.
We can only make demands within the confines of religion and Islam. If we dissent, if we demand equality, if we demand to live our lives without the labels of “kafir” or “immoral” — and all that which they imply, then we are inciting hatred…
It’s a topsy turvy world when “progressives” who are meant to be on our side take a stand with our oppressors and try to deny us the only tool we have to resist — our freedom of expression.