The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Goldsmiths Islamic Society protesters intimidate ex-Muslim campaigner

Students from Goldsmiths University’s Islamic Society intimidated well-known activist and ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie, including turning off the projector, reportedly gesturing death threats, and laughing at the death of a blogger

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Last Monday, Goldsmiths University saw a well-known human rights campaigner and ex-Muslim, Maryam Namazie, aggressively heckled and intimidated by protesters from the University’s Islamic Society (ISOC).

Namazie had been invited to the university by the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) to give a talk entitled ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’.

As protesters disrupted the talk, they claimed it “violated their safe space.”

Namazie, herself an ex-Muslim, fled her native Iran in the face of persecution and is a strong campaigner against Islamic extremism and Sharia law. She is a member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and was named Secularist of the Year in 2005 by the National Secular Society. She is also on the central committee member on the banned resistance group: the Worker-Communist Party of Iran.

The night before the event, ISOC posted on their Facebook page: “We feel extremely uncomfortable… she is renowned for being Islamophobic, and very controversial.”

A video posted online of the entire two hour talk shows how the events unfolded. At around 11 minutes in, Namazie begins to interrupt. She shouts “be quiet or get out” a total of 17 times.

To which the victim of the shouting claimed: “You are intimidating me.” Namazie then replied: “Oh, you’re intimidated? Go to your safe space.”

At one point, some students seem to laugh when the murder of secular Bangladeshi bloggers is mentioned. Namazie responds to them, saying: “Is it really funny that people get hacked to death?”

At around 34 minutes in, Namazie displayed images of the Prophet Muhammad in a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon. A student in the front row left his seat and turned Namazie’s projector off. Then security forcibly removed him from the room.

After the talk, Namazie said that, “After my talk began, ISOC ‘brothers’ started coming into the room, repeatedly banging the door, falling on the floor, heckling me, playing on their phones, shouting out, and creating a climate of intimidation in order to try to prevent me from speaking. I spoke as loud as I could.”

Reza Moradi, a lecturer present at the talk and who was involved in the group discussion that followed, said that one Muslim protester “looked right into my eyes and with his finger, shaping hand like a handgun, touched his forehead,” in what Moradi described as a “death threat.”

Since the event, ISOC has accused Ms Namazie of “harassment” of its members after the incident. ISOC has also condemned what they see as the “vile harassment of our ISOC members (both male and female) by the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH).”

According to ISOC: “Muslim students who attended the event were shocked and horrified by statements made by Namazie.”

Strikingly, both the University’s Feminist Society and LGBTQ+ society have come out strongly in support of ISOC’s actions at the event. This action has received heavy criticism on twitter with many claiming Namazie has done more for for LGBT* and women’s rights than either of the groups.

According to the National Secular Society, Namazie said: “The behaviour of the ISOC ‘brothers’ was so appalling that a number of Muslim women felt the need to apologise, to which I explained that no apology was needed from those who were not to blame.”

She added: “Freedom of expression and the right to criticise and leave Islam without fear and intimidation is a basic human right. We have a responsibility to fight for these universal values at British universities and also across the globe.”

In a statement, a university spokesperson said: “Goldsmiths supports freedom of speech and follows a set of regulations to help ensure that it is, within the law, secured for members, students, employees, and for visiting speakers.”

However, the Campaign manager for the National Secular Society has said: “It’s becoming very clear the concept of ‘safe spaces’ is being abused to the point where it is becoming a direct threat to freedom of speech.

“Some students may find criticism of their religion offensive but, in an open and free society, that does not give them the right to close down such discussion and intimidate those expressing their views.”

Since the event, well-known scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins, has described Namazie as “a brave, wonderful woman, champion of the oppressed, of freedom of speech, and of women.”

The University of Manchester’s Free Speech and Secular Society issued a statement to The Mancunion from one of their members, Ghassan Al-sammari: “The actions of Goldsmiths ISOC before, during and after the event on 30th November are utterly contemptible and have no place in a university environment.

“Far from being a ‘notorious islamophobe’, Ms Namazie has always made a clear distinction between Muslim, Islam and Islamism in all her talks. Ideas and beliefs are not people; a university should be the place where beliefs and idea can be analysed and debated.

“That ISOC first tried to appeal to safe space policies to have the debate stopped, then proceeded to attempt to disrupt and intimidate the speaker and attendees at the event and then finally made outrageous accusations after the event is frankly appalling and an abuse of what a sensible safe space policy is there for.

“What is more shocking is that both the Goldsmiths Feminist society and the LGBTQ Society have backed the ISOC over the Secular Society on this matter, despite the video footage clearly showing the behaviour of some of the ISOC members. Maryam Namazie is a feminist and pro-LGBT*. She is also an ex-Muslim—a minority group that suffers much bullying and oppression and little recognition. For these two groups to simply accept the ISOC’s ‘notorious islamophobe’ smear as fact and as justification for the ISOC’s desire to disinvite her is nothing short of disgraceful.”

The University of Manchester Students’ Union declined to comment.

 

  • Tekkle232

    Highly biased article in favour of Maryam Namazie, an ex-Muslim. Failed to mention she’s been banned from two other universities. She condenscendly pokes at the guy’s safe space. Shouldn’t be surprised but more surprised the Mancunion allowed this in with so much censorship on other matters.

    • Adam

      Being banned from universities doesn’t prove anything other than that censorship is widespread at UK universities. Which it is.

    • Since when should her lecture be a “safe space” for people who want to harass her?

    • Shank

      She’s been banned from other universities because those universities are run by gutless cowards who would rather cut their own throats than dare be accused of racism by disingenuous politicised Islamists like the scumbags in the linked video (which you clearly failed to watch). At this stage, being no-platformed by a British university is a badge of honour.

  • edwardel7asan

    What a pile of nonsense. There were no death threats by the Muslims and to label them “islamists” is just a loaded term.

    Namazie describes herself as an ex-Muslim and a critic of Islam, yet she knows nothing about Islam. And no, being of an Iranian or other Middle Eastern background doesn’t make you an expert on Islam.

    Just because Muslims challenged her on her ridiculous assertions, she claims she is threatened. These are the kinds of people who make up death threats.

    The author of this article should be ashamed of himself for such untrue and shoddy work. You are now responsible for misinformation and if that doesn’t shake your moral consciousness, then you are a hopeless individual.

    • Adam

      This guy clearly didn’t watch the video, and hasn’t actually referenced anything that’s untrue/ inaccurate either in the article or what Namazie has said. Don’t quit your day job, keyboard warriors dont get paid.

      • edwardel7asan

        Have you actually seen, read or heard Namazie beyond the narrow scope of this video? Shut up then.

        • Adam

          Why have you said “shut up” before I’ve even replied?
          Yes, yes I have…
          You are still yet to reference which bit she is wrong on. We are waiting…

          • edwardel7asan

            You want to find out which bit she says wrong? The bits when she talks about Islam.

          • edwardel7asan

            Tell me where she is right. It is easier.

      • edwardel7asan

        The video was watched along with other material where she has been present.

        As I said, it is easier to tell me where she was actually citing facts because the list of her wrongness is insurmountable.

    • Shank

      Firstly, a guy with a Confederate flag as his avatar is in no position to lecture others about their so-called lack of moral conscience.

      Secondly, you don’t NEED to be an expert on Islam to point out the bleeding obvious, which is that (a) those students turned up explicitly to bully her off the stage, and (b) that political Islam simply isn’t compatible with civilised society.

      Thirdly, the leader of Goldsmiths ISOC tweeted (before he deleted his account) that “Homosexuality is a disease of the heart and mind” and that anyone who disagreed was a “fag lover”. Only the most ignorant of demagogues would claim there is no basis for this bigoted perspective in the Koran and Hadith.

      Fourthly, these particular Muslim students DIDN’T challenge her assertions. They just shouted “Safe Space” at her, yelled over her, unplugged her projector and generally did everything they could to shut her down.

      Why don’t you actually watch the video in it’s entirety before spouting off like a fool?

      • edwardel7asan

        First, a guy who does not know the history of the Confederate Flag has no right to judge others without knowing something. The media associates the Islamic banner raised in ISIS promos with “jihadists” but it does not mean that the flag/banner has anything to do with them. It is the same with the Confederate Flag.

        Secondly, you obviously know nothing about Islam or Maryam Namazie to see that a) She should not have been invited, they could have invited any critic of Islam such as Tom Holland, or even Ed Bucknor but not a bigot. b) there is no such thing as political Islam but Islam. What parameters have you got to say that “political Islam” isn’t compatible with civilised society? Who has the right to define a civilised society? I look at the UK and see it slowly become more obviously uncivilised according to my own benchmarks. If you are going to bring some retarded example of Iran, “Saudi Arabia” to judge “political Islam” then your argument is already gushing with fundamental flaws.

        Thirdly, if he doesn’t like homosexuality, who are you to force your moral compass down his throat? Many people don’t like Islam or Orthodox Christianity but it does not mean I have the right to ram my moral compass down anyone’s throats. Just because he may not agree to homosexuality, it doesn’t mean he believes in mistreating homosexuals.

        Fourthly, I know what is in the video but I also know what is outside and beyond this video. Why don’t you look at the whole picture instead of a few minutes video clip?

        • Adam

          Why shouldn’t she have been invited? Why invite Tom Holland, or even Ed Bucknor and not her? You are still to cite where she is wrong, or inaccurate, and your argument will continue to be irrelevant until you can do that.

          • edwardel7asan

            Tell me where she was right.

  • The leftist identity-politics people should all go have sexual intercouse with themselves.

  • Jess Lishak

    “The University of Manchester Students’ Union declined to comment.” Ha, brilliant.

  • Grillas

    The more I read about Goldsmiths, the more it sounds like a centre for the over-sensitive and hypocritical. Don’t cry for your “safe spaces” when you’re a bigot yourself.