Human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie banned by Warwick Students’ Union

September 25, 2015 at 5:31 pm (censorship, Civil liberties, Free Speech, Human rights, islamism, misogyny, posted by JD, relativism, religion)


By Maryam Namazie (from her website):

I was invited to speak at Warwick University by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society on 28 October 2015. The University Student Union has declined the request for me to speak saying the following:

This is because after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus.

There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy:

The President (or equivalent) of the group organising any event is responsible for the activities that take place within their events.  All speakers will be made aware of their responsibility to abide by the law, the University and the Union’s various policies, including that they:

  • must not incite hatred, violence or call for the breaking of the law
  • are not permitted to encourage, glorify or promote any acts of terrorism including individuals, groups or organisations that support such acts
  • must not spread hatred and intolerance in the community and thus aid in disrupting social and community harmony
  • must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge
  • are not permitted to raise or gather funds for any external organisation or cause without express permission of the trustees.

In addition to this, there are concerns that if we place conditions on her attendance (such as making it a member only event and having security in attendance, asking for a transcript of what she intends to say, recording the speech) she will refuse to abide by these terms as she did for Trinity College Dublin.

The Atheist group is of course appealing their decision, however, it’s important for me to comment briefly on the Student Union’s position. I will be writing a more detailed letter to the university to formally complain about the Student Union accusations against me after taking legal advice.

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.

Well, it’s not up for sale or subject to the conditions of a Student Union too enamoured with Islamism to take a principled position.

By the way Warwick, in case you’re wondering, I will speak at your university – as I will be soon at Trinity College Dublin despite my initial talk being cancelled by organisers.


  1. John R said,

    Benjamin David (President of Warwick Secularists) has written his response here –

    Are these Student Unionists the face of the future leadership of the left? If so, the future is indeed grim. A generation of “leftists” is growing up thinking that censorship and shutting down discussion is the norm. They are going to be so used to being in their “safe places”, that they will be incapable of debating and defending themselves against the inevitable (quite justified) backlash. Yet again, idiots have passed the ball to the Tories, the goalie has shut his eyes and put his fingers in his ears and it’s “One -Nil to the Right” as the “defenders” of free speech. Meanwhile NUS conference can pass motions defining CAGE as a Civil Liberties group they can work with and then try to pretend they didn’t, of course.

    No doubt, on Facebook and Twitter, these “Liberation Supporters” will tell each other that their decision is the correct one and anyone disagreeing will be “unfriended”.

  2. Warwick University Student Union Bans Feminist, Marxist, Secularist Maryam Namazie. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] More from the comrades at Shiraz here. […]

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    I hope she gets to speak at another University and makes a mockery of this decision to ban her! Some SU some where must have the courage to invite her, then it will be red faces all round at Warwick.

  4. Tom said,

    Good. I’ve heard her speak (at a university) and she made some openly bigotted comments, in particular one calling Muslim men wife-beaters. She has no place on campus.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      What is bigoted about calling Muslim men wife beaters?

      • Tom said,

        In that it makes an offensive comment about an entire group of people. You know, like classic bigotry.

    • februarycallendar said,

      If you think her comments are bigoted then you should debate them with her on campus. That is what universities are for, after all.

      • Tom said,

        Yeah! We can hold right after the “Negro skull sizes – what do they really tell us?” debate!

      • Jim Denham said,

        “Yeah! We can hold right after the “Negro skull sizes – what do they really tell us?” debate!”

        How in the fuckin’ hell is that in any way comparable to a proven anti-racist secularist feminist like Maryam expressing views about Islam and misogyny that upset apologists like you?

      • Tom said,

        Jim, you might wish to go and have a nice sit down in a quite room with a cup of tea.

        Februarycallendar suggested that bigoted comments ought to be debated on campus. My comment (quite effectively in my humble opinion) satirised that suggestion. No need for you to get all cock-a-hoop about Maryam’s supposed virtues.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Even if that was true and I very much doubt it, so what? It’s called freedom of speech and sometimes we often have to hear things we disagree with. If we she says is so shit & bigoted, then you’ll have no problem exposing her as one, be like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • John Rogan said,

      This was reported in the Independent in 2010. Is it “bigoted” to highlight this and say it is wrong?

      “A senior Muslim cleric who runs the country’s largest network of sharia courts has sparked controversy by claiming that there is no such thing as rape within marriage.

      Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, said that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because “sex is part of marriage”. And he claimed that many married women who alleged rape were lying.”

      There are other examples such as the UAE Supreme Court, quoting the Quran, saying it is ok for a man to beat his wife and children. I won’t publish the link for fear of falling in the “spam folder” here with too many links.

      These student leftists remind me of groups like the RCG who refuse to hear or coutanence any criticism of those who are deemed the “oppressed”. If you are “privileged” you have to “check it” and shut your eyes, close your mouth and stick your fingers in your ears. Then the “oppressed” don’t do these things, you know. And, if it is shown they do, why Mossad must be to blame!

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Maybe University campuses need a short, sharp shock of Sharia law.

      • februarycallendar said,

        ‘Tom’ reminds me of those reactionaries (of all sides) who always seem to appear, on multiple forums taking multiple political positions, only using very short and very common first names, and invariably being as smug, assumptive and fearful as possible.

        They exist here as they did on the ultra-right Conservative Democratic Alliance forum …

      • Tom said,

        I’m fairly sure I heard a British person once say something offensive. Is it “bigoted” to highlight this and claim that all Brits believe it to be true?

      • John Rogan said,

        Tom, you haven’t provided a shred of proof for your assertion about the “Muslim man beating his wife” tale.

        No video evidence.

        No audio evidence.

        No written evidence.

        No corroboration from another witness

        No indication that Namazie said or wrote anything similar anywhere else.

        Just your memory.

        Personally, I’d prefer something more than that.

        Oh, and btw, regarding your comment “I’m pretty sure I heard a British person once say something offensive”. This is a very flippant reply considering Sheik Abu Sayeed is president of the Islamic Sharia Court in Britain. He is a representative of that organisation, not just a “person”.

        You also make a distinction between his “bigoted” viewpoint and that of a “British person”. As he has lived here since 1977, I’d make an intelligent guess he’s also got a British passport and is, therefore, “British”.

        Or would you not consider him so.

      • Tom said,

        Well yes, because I was there and heard it with my ears, and it entered my memory. I’m sorry to say I don’t video/tape/transcribe everything I say, and nor do I carry around witnesses.

        As for my comment, as was so blindingly obvious, you can’t simply impute one person’s views to other people simply because they happen to fall within the same ‘group’. To do so would be bigotry.

      • John R said,

        “you can’t simply impute one person’s views to other people simply because they happen to fall within the same ‘group’” – Tom

        You can that person represents the views of the religious organisation. Otherwise people leave and form another one. The leader of a religious organisation is there to represent or give guidance to the views of his/her followers.

        If Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed had been a lay member then your point would be valid but he’s not. He’s the President. He’s their leader. He provides guidance. He represents the views of the majority.

        It’s like saying “Oh, it’s only the Pope who said it. We can’t say his views represent all Catholics”. Well, we can say he represents the Church and the overwhelming majority opinion.

        “It would have been 11 March 2010 (or thereabouts) at Oxford University’ – Tom

        This gets better. So, based on a memory from over five years ago with no evidence from any other source (even anecdotal) you would restrict the free speech of someone.

        I am reminded of this quote Michael Ezra put on his Twitter feed –

        “Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant-frenzy of impotence crieth thus in you for “equality”: your most secret tyrant-longings disguise themselves thus in virtue-words!” – Friedrich Nietzsche (thus spake Zarathustra)

      • Tom said,

        John- Indeed, they surely don’t allow just anyone to set up a religious organisation! So we can definitely impute his views to *all* Muslims, without question or qualification.

        As for the Pope, who is the leader of a religious denomination, rather than a faith-based organisation (an important difference), he expounds Catholic doctrine – not the views of all Catholics. Maybe you should try asking some Roman Catholics what their views are on contraception – you may be surprised.

        As for my memory – yes, funnily enough, because this is an internet page, not a court of law, and people do tend to speak from memory, rather than summonsing witnesses online. It’s quite different to imagine what other evidence I could adduce, which is precisely why this is a ridiculous and deliberately obstructive line of argument for you to be pursuing.

        The event is, however, documented to have taken place (the date is earlier than I cited, as I based mine on the date the photographs were uploaded), in the location I mentioned, so I think it’s fairly reasonable for people to accept that I was there.

        In any case, you’re again profoundly (and wilfully) wrong: I have not sought to stifle anyone’s free speech. Maryam can go around shouting “Go live in Iran!” until she’s blue in the face – but it doesn’t mean that organisations have to give her a platform to do so. I am not, for example, considering inviting her to speak at a dinner party with all my friends and associated. I daresay you think this the most egregious infringement of a sacred societal value. I am deeply sorry.

    • ZINR said,

      Did you mind Holocaust revisionist and blatant Jew-hater Ken O’Keefe speaking at Warwick?

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Nope, should I/we have minded that someone we didn’t agree with was allowed to exercise their right to free speech?

      • ZINR said,

        That was a question to Tom, to see whether he objected to Ken O’Keefe as strongly as he did Ms Namazie.

        Personally I’m quite happy to see a lunatic Nazi expose his vile views to a bunch of students…after all Galloway speaks at Universities sometimes. It only serves to underline his Mosely-lite inadequacies

      • Tom said,

        I’m afraid I don’t know who he his, nor whether he has ever spoken at Warwick. But as a general point, I would object to people who, for example, sought to question to value and dignity of Jewish people. That wouldn’t, of course, extend any immunity to discussion about the state of Israel.

      • ZINR said,

        You assume then, Tom, that if I describe someone as a Holocaust revisionist and Jew-hater, that I am actually just trying to shield Israel from criticism?

        Okay, I think I know what sort of person you are now and can easily dismiss anything you may have to say on the subject of banning anti-fascists like Namazie.

      • Tom said,

        Yawn. I looked up Ken O’Keefe and say plenty of statements about his criticism of Israel, and nothing about Jewish people per se. Hence including that point in my general comments.

  5. Krammer said,

    Tom Said
    Can you enlighten us with the name of the university and date that you heard her speak? All of her speeches are usually published on Youtube or on herblog. I doubt that she has made such generalised comments.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Krammer, don’t hold your breathe waiting for a reply…

    • Tom said,

      It would have been 11 March 2010 (or thereabouts) at Oxford University, as part of ‘Think Week”. I can’t see a Youtube video of the talk, but her comment was made in the Q&A afterwards.

  6. kb72 said,

    I can imagine her saying that Islam gives its male followers the right to beat their wives. After all, loads of Muslim clerics say it’s fine for a man to beat his wife.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Yep, that sounds more likely, but some people only hear what they wanna hear…

    • Tom said,

      Nope, it was a specific comment about a man who, as a Muslim, ‘was probably beating his wife’.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I’d be interested to know the exact facts, which have noticeably *not* been produced by Tom. But even if what Tom claims is true, it’s still a disgrace that a Students Union bans a socialist feminist secular Iranian woman with a long record of opposing religious bigots (and it’s certainly that opposition to bigotry that Tom and those who seek to ban her really object to).

        Its great that free speech and secularism have prevailed over the craven apologists for Islamic fundamentalism.

      • Tom said,

        It’s nice to know, Jim, that rather than actually listening to someone else’s views or experience, you choose instead simply to assert what I “certainly” object to. Makes a bit of a mockery of the virtues of free speech if people like you are so unwilling to listen.

        Like I said, Maryam made some very clearly bigoted comments. These were not comments restricted to religious bigots, or based on the objectionable views held by particular Muslims.

        They were slurs based entirely on a person’s religious affiliation. That is bigotry, and there is no defence for it.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    • Steven Johnston said,

      I don’t think they had much choice, another SU would have let her speak and made a mockery of their ban.

  8. Rilke said,

    There is a more subtle element here. You can have freedom of speech but you don’t have the freedom to make me listen to it. No on is making any students attend or forcing them to listen, they can stay away or go and disagree. The Warwick SU on the other hand, like our friend Tom here, is seeking to ‘protect’ poor listeners from what they have heard and deem harmful. This is patronising and ultimately totalitarian. I would ask you Tom; if listening to this speaker did not make you a bigot why do you assume that you are so much more intelligent then those you seek to ‘protect’. Is every one else so much more stupid and gullible than you, to such a degree that we need you to sort out what we can listen to. No my friend, people do not need you to tell them what to think. Maybe you can make lists of the disobedient.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Totally agree and there in lies the rub with that line of argument. He can see through what is harmful but you can’t. Typical SWP line. Though you can bet if the Warwick SU ever banned Tom from speaking they’d never hear the end of it.

    • Tom said,

      Equally, no-one has the freedom to insist that a particular place host any particular kind of speech. I think you have (deliberately or ignorantly) mis-characterised my view; it’s not about ‘protecting’ anyone from harmful views.

      It’s about whether or not we (in the general sense) have an obligation to host obviously bigoted people, especially given that such platforms embolden other persons with bigoted views, which is why bigoted speakers often correlate with a rise in hate crime.

      It’s quite ironic that those of you taking an extreme view of free speech are the least capable of listening when someone offers a view other than your own. I can’t see much point in having free speech in an echo-chamber, but such is life.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        No, I agree with you, they do have a right to refuse to hear any view, in the same way that say a cafe owner should be allowed to refuse service if he does not like the colour of your skin.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        , which is why bigoted speakers often correlate with a rise in hate crime.

        Evidence please…plus, how can you claim it is ironic, have your views ever been censored here? Nope, debated yes but censored no. The irony is to found with your left-wing friends who cheer when the the EDL are banned from marching but cry foul when their march is banned. In the latter case it’s an attack on freedom of speech.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    The idea that Maryam Namazie is a “bigot” is simply preposterous. Her record as an outspoken and courageous secularist, feminist, Marxist and opponent of Islamism speaks for itself. That we’re even having to debate this is a sign of the relativist, identity-politics degeneration of sections of the “left”.

    • Tom said,

      Um why? Whether you accept it or not, I heard her make bigoted comments. She clearly has issues with Muslims per se, rather than any particularly objectionable Muslims.

      And her record, as far as I can tell, is simply to respond to all criticism with “Why don’t you go and live in Iran” on repeat.

  10. Steven Johnston said,

    Which is a country no (UK) lefty would dream about living in!
    I think she has a problem with Islam per se, rather than muslims and I can’t see how that would necessarily make you a bigot. I’ve looked into the precepts of Islam and reject it, does that make me a bigot too?

  11. Rilke said,

    Interesting language Tom and very revealing. You use the term ‘we’ and you purport tp speak for this mysterious ‘we’ projected by you as the ‘general sense’. Perhaps you are the sovereign principal as it were, that sits at the head and at the centre of the collective moral leviathan. You then speak for the collective ‘we’ that are both of you and a projection of you. You are both the moral principle and the logical structure of this ‘we’; those outside it must be by definition, thick, misguided or bigots. There is a wonderful novel about unfreedom by the Russian writer Zamyatin titled Mbyi in Russian or ‘We’ in English. You may think you have never read it, but it was plagiarised after its first translation, by George Orwell and shows its presence in Orwell’s 1984. I think this notion of ‘we-as-me’, goes some way to explaining why you think others are too thick to draw their own conclusions. Perhaps they might draw conclusions that the ‘you/we’ has never even thought of yet, think of that!

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Not fogetting the cosmic irony, that it’s ok to support a ban on people speaking but if anyone tries to attack that position that shows that they don’t support freedom of speech!

    • Tom said,

      What a peculiar comment. Maybe try reading what you’re replying to before inserted your prefab answer.

      I did not speak on behalf of “we”, merely used it to refer to collective obligations. Interesting pop-psychology, but you’d probably be better off investing more time actually learning to pay attention to what you’re reading.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Tom, do you think the working class is clever enough to make up it’s own mind and does not need to be “protected” from bigoted speakers?

      • Tom said,

        Steve – I can’t see any point in engaging with you, as you seem to just be spoiling for a fight, rather than any intelligent debate. Hence your consistent jumping on comments, and absurd (and presumably deliberate) mis-characterising of my comments.

        I suggest you give up trying to engage me, switch off the computer and go outside. It’s nice out there, try it and see.

  12. Rilke said,

    In the novel by Zamyatin, when the people on the ship named the Integral ask the computer questions it does not wish to answer it keeps telling them that they are not asking the right questions and that they should ‘leave’. Interesting that….

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Layers of irony in his replies?

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Or is he an objectivist and refuses to “sanction” your questions?

  13. Jim Denham said,

    An utterly shameful article by David Shariatmadari (the same guy who did the hatchet-job on Maajid Nawaz) in the Graun:

    I’m glad to see that Shariatmadari’s disingenuous grovelling to Islamism and relativist nonsense is thoroughly trashed and denounced in the BTL comments.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Though, we do have to add I’m glad the nonsense written by David Shariatmadari was not censored! Though some of the comments were…

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