There’s been a lot of friction lately over who the main opponents were of segregated seats for men and women at Islamic campus talks, endorsed till recently by higher education group Universities UK.
Priyamvada Gopal, in a December 16 post at the Rationalist Association originally entitled ‘The Right may have hijacked the issue of gender segregation, but thats no reason to ignore it’, described ‘the deft way in which Student Rights, an offshoot of the bullishly paternalist Euro-American think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, has managed to bring “gender segregation” at some campus events to national attention’ and how ‘battle lines were drawn once again between so-called ‘muscular liberals’ (generally, in fact, deeply conservative white males with a commitment to the idea that West is Best) and defenders of the rights of minorities to their own customary or traditional practices.’ She was roundly vilified on Twitter and in the blogosphere for this, charged by a wide variety of anti-segregationists – especially those behind the December 10 demonstration in Tavistock Square – with inaccuracy over who its and related actions’ organisers were.
Laurie Penny, in a Guardian column this Sunday she acknowledged as being influenced by Gopal’s piece, wrote that as a feminist she is ‘constantly being told that Islam is the greatest threat to gender equality in this or any other country – mostly by white men, who always know best.’ ‘The rhetoric and language of feminism has been co-opted by Islamophobes’, says Penny, since gender segregation made the headlines this year, and ‘rightwing commentators and tabloids seized upon the issue to imply that Islamic extremists are taking over the British academy.’
Both posts contain inaccuracies and intimations I’d dispute. Penny too faced a wave of criticism, rebuked by Muslim and ex-Muslim women, not unfairly, for ignoring their role in the anti-segregation push – and by Nick Cohen, less fairly, of ‘rais[ing] up right wing bogeymen’. (Both also somewhat miss the mark, I think, in their characterisation of Student Rights, but that’s a different post.) Confusion abounds, it seems, over which forces drove back support for segregation. Both sides have become heated about it.
To add some clarity to the debate, I’ve assembled a timeline of events – coverage, principally, in British media – between March 9 when the issue first came to light and December 15, the day before Gopal’s piece (accused by many of rewriting history) was published. Suffice it to say the true picture is mixed: Gopal’s and Penny’s critics are right to knock them for overlooking one faction’s role, but they themselves are right – and I side with their general point of view, if not their every word – to say right-leaning pundits and publications played a central role.
I’ve made the timeline as comprehensive as I can, though inevitably I’ll have overlooked some things – let me know and I’ll amend it. There are a couple of caveats to this: first, since I’m measuring events in the still-insular British news environment, inclusion is UK-specific, hence Ophelia Benson’s posts at Butterflies and Wheels (cited only once, as I recall, in a post listed below) don’t appear while Maryam Namazie’s do; second, since this post tracks opposition to segregated seating, it doesn’t account for articles defending it – that some papers published more of these than others (the Huffington Post and Independent spring to mind) is, consequently, part of their role the timeline fails to gauge. When it comes to smaller or personal blogs, there’s also a subjective question of which merit inclusion and which don’t, but I’m more or less confident I’ve answered it with reasonable fairness.
The method by which bullet points were sourced, for transparency, had several steps. It began with date-specific Google searches of UK sites in five day intervals between March 9 and December 15 for the keywords ‘segregation’, ‘universities’ and ‘gender’, listing relevant results from the first five pages. After this came site-specific searches for results containing the keyword ‘segregation’ or ‘segregate’ on sites (newspapers’, for instance) that had yielded results initially. Finally, relevant pages already linked or cited were added in, before pages and posts by the specific campaigners Gopal and Penny were charged with ignoring. (Many of these, it should be noted, didn’t show up in the initial search, but I didn’t want to erase them myself, and it’s notable which are and aren’t cited in other media here.)
The timeline follows, with names of major players emboldened and notes underneath on things I find, well, noteworthy.
- A debate is held at University College London between Lawrence Krauss and the Islamic Education and Research Academy’s Hamza Tzortzis, entitled ‘Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?’
- Krauss tweets that he ‘almost walked out of [the] debate as it ended up segregated + saw 3 kids being ejected for sitting in wrong place’, adding ‘I packed up and they gave in’.
- Richard Dawkins responds, posting numerous tweets accusing UCL of ‘cowardly capitulation to Muslims’, referring to Tzortzis as ‘Some Muslim or other’ and asking ‘Who the hell do these Muslims think they are?’ (These tweets and later ones by Dawkins on Islam have heavy criticism, including from me.)
- Facebook user Dana Sondergaard posts video footage of Krauss threatening to leave, tweeted by him soon afterward, stating: ‘After having been told the event would NOT be gender segregated, we arrived and were told that women were to sit in the back of the auditorium, while men and couples could file into the front’ and corroborating Krauss’ account.
- Richard Dawkins at the RDFRS site: ‘Sexual Apartheid in University College, London’
‘A few days ago,’ states Dawkins, ‘I had received a tip-off from somebody who had made an inquiry’, writing that he informed Krauss, prompting him to secure IERA’s (eventually worthless) assurance seating would be non-segregated. Dawkins closes the post asking ‘Isn’t it really about time we decent, nice, liberal people stopped being so pusillanimously terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stood up for decent, nice, liberal values?’
- The Tab: ‘Dawkins outraged by Islamic gender segregation at UCL’
Both Krauss’ and Dawkins’ tweets are cited in the student tabloid’s report, as well as Dawkins’ RDFRS post and statements by students on Facebook that ‘Ucl security helped enforce the segregation’.
- The forum of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain publishes a widely-distributed statement ‘by concerned students’ that ‘Sexual segregation at UCL is a scandal’, detailing correspondence with university officials who promised a segregated event would ‘not be permitted to go ahead’. CEMB members Adam Barnett and Christopher Roche are quoted as two of the three male students ejected, as well as a female Asian student named Halima and Chris Moos, a prominent member of LSE’s student atheist group.
- The Huffington Post (UK): ‘Segregated Seating Row At UCL Debate Between Islam And Atheism’
- Maryam Namazie publishes the ‘concerned students’ statement on her blog.
- Maryam Namazie: ‘Sex segregation not miscommunication’
The post quotes a letter by Moos outlining events at the debate and calling on authorities to investigate.
- The National Secular Society reproduces the ‘concerned students’ text in full.
- The Guardian: ‘UCL investigating after Islamic group debate segregated seating by gender’
- CEMB forum: ‘Take action: IERA & the Segregation Tour – Next stop is KCL’
The admin of the CEMB Twitter account warns forum members of another IERA event the evening of March 11 at King’s College London where segregation will be ‘highly likely’, giving a ‘sample letter’ to provided by Moos based on his previous one.
- Abishek Phadnis at Student Rights: ‘Student Voice: the Missionary Position’
Phadnis, secretary at the time of the LSE atheist group, outlines IERA’s Islamist record and underhand debate tactics.
- Tab: ‘Students Slam “Sexual Segregation”’
Reports on the contents of the ‘concerned students‘ statement.
- Student Rights publishes the ‘concerned students’ statement.
- UCL officials announce in a statement, ‘We are still investigating what actually happened at the meeting but, given IERA’s original intentions for a segregated audience we have concluded that their interests are contrary to UCL’s ethos and that we should not allow any further events involving them to take place on UCL premises.’
- Student Rights: ‘Segregation at UCL is no exception to the rule’
Criticises ‘the portrayal of this as an isolated incident, when segregation on our campuses is actually far more common’, citing previous similar events and UCL’s statement.
- Harry’s Place: ‘iERA banned from future UCL events’
Reproduces UCL’s statement after noting provost Malcolm Grant’s denial of ‘extremism’ and, in the words of the linked Telegraph article, ‘the true of extent of Islamic radical influence at UCL’.
- Huffington Post: ‘UCL Segregation Row: University Responds’
- NSS: ‘Islamic group banned from UCL following gender segregation row’
- John Sargeant at Homo economicus’ Weblog: ‘Take a seat: UCL Islamic V Atheist debate’
- Anne Marie Waters at the Huffington Post: ‘Islamic Extremism on Campus – Is the Tide Turning?’
States IERA enforced segregation ‘in a scenario lifted straight out of Saudi Arabia’; indicts ‘the political left and student activists’ as ‘defenders of religious brutality and totalitarianism’, gender segregation and ‘medieval misogyny’.
- Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: ‘Socialists must fight for secularism’
Notes criticism of Dawkins’ March 10 article for its ‘air of . . . western superiority’ and describes him as ‘not the best spokesperson against sexism’, while also insisting ‘mild annoyance at the idea of the first university in the UK to admit female students on the same basis as their male counterparts playing host to a quasi-segregated event is simply not a good enough reaction. Any attempt to forcibly divide an audience at a secular institution such as a university, or anywhere else for that matter, must be thoroughly denounced. . . . he tradition of marginalising religion from the public sphere is a proud one that socialists used to uphold. Let us continue to uphold it.’
- David Aaronovitch in the Times: ‘This pandering to religion can only harm us’
Paywalled, but syndicated in the Australian. States, significantly, ‘Had it not been for the furious tweeting of Richard Dawkins I doubt whether I would have heard of this event.’ Accuses IERA of ‘lead-lined insensitivity to British cultural sensitivity’.
- The Daily Mail: ‘University College London bans hard-line Islamic group which tried to segregate men and women at a debate held on university premises’
Quotes IERA statements that ‘In all normal Islamic events people will naturally often separate themselves: men with men and women with women’ and Dawkins’ invitation for ‘decent, nice, liberal people [to stop] being so pusillanimously terrified of being thought “Islamophobic”’.
- Times Higher Education: ‘The week in higher education’
Summarises events at UCL within a news roundup.
- The Daily Telegraph: ‘Britons afraid to challenge radical Islam, says former Obama adviser’
Cites Lawrence Krauss in the byline as suggesting ‘British people are too afraid to offend a “vocal and aggressive” section of the Muslim community who demand that their cultural values are accepted by wider society’, and quotes him verbatim as telling them segregationists feel ‘their cultural norms are not being met’, that ‘the notion that these cultural norms should be carried out within a broader society that not only doesn’t share them but that is free and open is a very serious problem’ and that ‘[t]he notion . . . broader society should accommodate that discomfort is complete nonsense . . . . It is the obligation of people who don’t feel comfortable with that to decide how they are going to mesh with broader society, not the other way around.’ Note the headline’s emphasis on Krauss’ role as a policy consultant in Obama’s first presidential run – as if to lend his views extra authority, despite having advised on science rather than anything directly relevant (secularism, social cohesion, etc).
- The Week: ‘Brits too afraid of “aggressive” Muslims, says US academic’
Regurgitates Lawrence Krauss’ comments to the Telegraph – all my notes there apply here too – and also David Aaronovitch’s in the Times.
- An Islamist event at the University of East London advertised with ‘segregated seating’, scheduled to take place on this date, is averted by campus authorities.
- Toby Young in the Telegraph: ‘Even a right-on Obama advisor is shocked by Islamic sexism at UCL’
Quotes Krauss’ comments to the paper, again describing him conspicuously as ‘a leading physicist who served on Obama’s science policy committee’ and nodding at his comparison of British campus attitudes with those of (Young:) ‘other Western universities’ – including, tellingly, one in Australia, directly south of Japan. Young, like the Mail‘s coverage the day before, quotes Dawkins’ ‘nice, decent liberals’ statement, calling him and Krauss ‘absolutely right’. (Original URL reads ‘bowing to Islamic sexism’.)
- The Independent: ‘UCL bans Islamic group after segregation row’
- Guardian: ‘UCL bans Islamic group from campus in row over segregated seating’
- Tab: ‘Islamic Society in sexual segregation row’
Details an event at Leicester University’s Islamic Society where Tzortzis addressed a segregated audience on February 20, including signage directing men and women to separate areas.
- Rupert Sutton (main researcher for Student Rights) at the Commentator: ‘Is segregation on campuses becoming the norm?’
Duplicates much of Student Rights’ ‘No exception to the rule’ piece from March 11, which I imagine he wrote, adding elements of personal commentary.
- Harry’s Place: ‘Despite denial, UCL staff found to have actively enforced gender segregation’
Publishes a new statement from the ‘concerned students’ group on the involvement of a UCL chemist, one Aisha Rahman, in segregation at the Tzortzis-Krauss event. Namechecks the same individuals as earlier – Adam Barnett, Christopher Roche, Chris Moos, Halima.
- Student Rights also publishes the new statement.
- Peter Tatchell at his foundation’s website: ‘Islamist haters blocked at East London University’
- Maryam Namazie: ‘A lesson on sex-segregation with more work to be done’
Signal-boosts both Tatchell’s coverage of the Khalid Yasin event at UEL and the new ‘concerned students’ statement.
- Terry Sanderson at the NSS: ‘Feeding the fires of fundamentalism’
Says of Tzortzis’ events, ‘it has become clear that the only purpose of these “debates” is to prove to his devout followers that the infidels must be overcome.’
- Peter Tatchell‘s ‘Islamist haters blocked’ piece of March 18 reproduced at the Huffington Post.
- NSS: ‘University & student union fail to publicly condemn preachers’
- FOSIS organise a sixth formers’ event with Hamza Tzortzis at Imperial College London, advertised with separate information phone lines for men and women. (I can’t track down promotional material, so am taking Andrew Gilligan’s word in the Telegraph for it – see below – but this is quite a common practice in campus Islamic Societies, and if organisers wished to prevent men and women speaking on the telephone, it’s presumably a reasonable bet they wanted them to sit apart.)
- Guardian: ‘Inquiry launched after Islamic group holds segregated lecture’
Reports on the aftermath of the segregated Tzortzis event at Leicester University – see March 15 in The Tab.
- The Week: ‘“Segregated” seating at Leicester Uni Islamic Society investigated’
Further coverage of this situation – again, emphasising Dawkins’ comments about ‘sexual apartheid’ and ‘decent, liberal values’ after the UCL debacle. Also notes the blocking of the segregated UEL event and Rupert Sutton’s Commentator piece from March 18.
- Shiraz Maher in The Spectator: ‘It’s time for universities to address segregation on their campuses’
- Daily Telegraph: ‘Second university sounds alarm over segregation at Muslim student events’
Covers segregation stories at both UCL and Leicester. Note the reference in the title and byline (‘Muslim students are enforcing segregation’) – while it’s technically true that Islamic Societies who hold such events and book speakers from IERA and groups similar to it are both Muslims and students, only around a fifth of Muslim students polled in 2008 even belonged to their university’s ISoc, and less than half of those who did went to most or all of its events. There’s good reason to think segregation and related practices are quite prevalent in British ISocs, but not that those societies are reliable bellwethers of broader Muslim (student) sentiment.
- Huffington Post: ‘Men And Women “Segregated” At Leicester University Debate On “Does God Exist?”’
- Times Higher Education: ‘Islamic society investigated over gender segregation’
- Daily Mail: ‘University probing Muslim group after it “forced male and female students to sit in separate areas during public talk on God”’
- Student Rights: ‘MPACUK have a “Dream for the Ummah” at Queen Mary’
Reports plans by the Muslim Public Affairs Committee – listed, it’s mentioned here, by the NUS No Platform policy as a racist group – to hold a conference on Queen Mary’s campus where a student in touch with Student Rights ‘claimed that gender segregation was planned, though we have found no evidence to suggest that this is the case.’
- Student Rights: ‘Segregation by gender advertised at MPACUK Conference’
Confirms the planned use of segregation at the ‘Dream for the Ummah’ event, based on an email sent to attendees which announced ‘Separate seating arrangements for men and women have been arranged’.
- Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph: ‘Baroness Warsi and the demons of hate’
On Sayeeda Warsi’s cooperation with FOSIS, despite other members of her government refusing to meet its leaders, and numerous segregated events at universities.
- Islamic group DaruTawheed holds an event in the city’s Asian Cultural Centre previously promoted on student-based Facebook page ‘Interesting Talks Oxford’ and advertised as ‘fully segregated’.
- Commentator: ‘UK universities fall victim to campus segregation trend’
Covers the findings of Student Rights’ ‘Unequal Opportunity’ report on segregation, released the following day. Note that the Commentator was formerly edited by Student Rights’ director, Raheem Kassam – it isn’t surprising, in light of this, that it had the scoop on the report. The piece does link the Times’ story from May 13 (see below); I assume this was an edit after publication, unless the Commentator site shows the wrong date.
- Student Rights: ‘REPORT: Unequal Opportunity – Gender Segregation on UK University Campuses’
The full report is paywalled, but has been (see below) widely reported. Additionally, the executive summary and introduction are reproduced for free under the post.
- Independent: ‘Preaching by extremists and discrimination through segregation has become widespread trend at UK universities equality group claims’
Cites the prominent figure from the report of 180 events logged by Student Rights between March 2012 and March 2013 where ‘speakers [had] a history of extreme or intolerant views’, 46 of which ‘explicitly promoted segregation by gender, or implied that it would be the case’. Also quotes Kassam’s comments in the Commentator/Telegraph.
- Nico Hines in the Times: ‘Radicals who spread message of brutality, hate and intolerance’
- Times: ‘Extremists preaching to students in Britain’
Paywalled but reproduced here.
- Week: ‘New generation of extremists preaching at British universities’
Cites the Times coverage and refers to the UCL and Leicester incidents.
- Daily Telegraph: ‘Extremist Islamist leaders preaching to students, says study’
Mentions the 180 events reported by Student Rights before somewhat misleadingly stating ‘More than a quarter of those public talks held by Islamic societies in the year until March are thought to have had segregated seating’ – somewhat ambiguous wording a casual reader might understand to mean a quarter of all ISoc events (not just the 180 with ‘extremist’ speakers) were segregated.
- The Daily Express: ‘Extremists “segregating students”’
- BBC News: ‘“Extremists” preaching to UK student societies’
Notably, the first story to refer simply to ‘180 events’ rather than initially stating ‘nearly 200’ and then clarifying. (I’m unsure why so many papers found writing ‘180’ from the off unappetising, unless they wanted to exaggerate the figure – hardly necessary.) However, it also refers to ‘277 events promoted in UK and Irish universities where segregation was alluded to, either directly or through policies stated elsewhere. And 180 of these were on UK campuses’. This is erroneous, mixing up numbers from the report where the 277/180 figures refer to ‘extremist’ speakers and 46 UK events are specified as having been segregated. The piece also quotes Kassam and Universities UK Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge, who becomes important later (see November 22) and states here that ‘Institutions have a legal obligation to promote free speech, and that may involve allowing controversial, indeed sometimes offensive, opinions to be expressed.’
- Huffington Post : ‘Muslim Students’ Anger At Student Rights’ Extremism On Campus Claims’
- The Sun: ‘New generation of radical Islamists preach at UK universities’
Paywalled, but reproduced here by Student Rights.
- Student Rights republish their report’s executive summary and introduction as a self-contained post.
- Student Rights: ‘Segregation on campuses: a response to critics’
Rebuts various statements made against the report, particularly by NUS officials and writers defending segregation or accusing Student Rights of anti-Muslim agitation at the Huffington Post (Shohana Khan and Hilary Aked in particular).
- Raheem Kassam in the Commentator: ‘A tangled web…’
Offers a more personal rebuttal to Aked and various others.
- Huffington Post : ‘Student Rights Blames Newspapers For Backlash Over “Inaccurate” Campus Extremism Headlines’
Notes Student Rights’ statement in their May 19 ‘response to critics’ that, as noted here, ‘for many media outlets the temptation to round up to the nearest exaggeration is often difficult to resist.’
- Elizabeth O’Casey at the NSS: ‘New “safe campus” website – radical silence on religious radicalism?’
Criticises a site launched at a Universities UK conference to ‘handle radicalisation and extremism’ for making ‘no mention of religious extremism as something to combat specifically’.
- Chris Moos at the Huffington Post: ‘Defending the Right of – Muslim – Students’
Describes the Krauss-Tzortzis event at UCL as having been ‘[w]orryingly . . . omitted from the discussion’ of the Student Rights report, despite it being mentioned in coverage by the Independent, Times and Daily Express. Also states, supported by good data, that ‘FOSIS, the umbrella organisation of Islamic Student Societies represents only a fraction of Muslim UK students’, and states ‘there is merit in mentioning that Student Rights is affiliated to the Henry Jackson Society. It is a lamentable fact that it is being left to an organisation with possible ties to a neo-con associated group to highlight what the Left should’.
- Daily Telegraph : ‘Boris Johnson: Ban Islamic groups teaching segregated university lectures’
- Louise Tickle in the Guardian: ‘How do universities deal with gender segregation?’
Quotes the opinion of female Muslim student Razana Abdul, who wished to sit with her male partner at the segregated UCL debate but was prevented, describing this as ‘gender apartheid’.
- Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail: ‘Keeping the sexes apart is extremist’
Gives figures from the Student Rights report on segregated events, stating ‘All were organised by Muslim groups, or were focused on issues of interest to Muslims.’ See notes on the Telegraph piece from April 15: this is strictly true, but also somewhat misleading.
- The Evening Standard: ‘Tackle the campus Islamic radicals’
- Student Rights: ‘Women’s rights used to promote Islamist ideology to students’
Notes the connections of various female Muslim segregationists to groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.
- Hanna Ibraheem at Times Higher Education: ‘Are there extremist “swamps” to drain on campus?’
Notes the impact of the Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich, mentioned in the Standard’s June 3 editorial, as ‘reignit[ing] debate over university radicalisation’. This is the first story to refer to comments by David Cameron, who after Woolwich ‘said he wanted to “drain the swamp” that allowed violent extremism to take root in British society, including groups based at universities.’ It also quotes Rupert Sutton’s comments on City University Islamic Society refusing to submit sermons for pre-approval and 2011 statements by Theresa May (another important name later) that universities ‘have [not] been sufficiently willing to recognise what can be happening on their campuses and the radicalisation that can take place’, as well as referring to segregation ‘controversies’.
- Abishek Phadnis at Trending Central: ‘The silence of secularists: how the Left-Islamist alliance is winning’
Notes various Islamist-related controversies on campuses and elsewhere, including segregation at the Krauss-Tzortzis event in March, and the role of left wing campus authorities. Note that Trending Central‘s ‘About’ page states it was ‘founded in 2013 by Raheem Kassam’, being in some respect a successor to the Commentator in this regard.
- Trending Central: ‘UK Islamist group gets aggressive after speaker ban’
Details IERA’s response to prohibition on campuses following the UCL debate and other planned events.
- Trending Central: ‘EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 fails to disclose Islamist connections of niqab debate guests’
Notes the Krauss-Tzortzis event and IERA’s being banned from UCL in its aftermath.
- Universities UK publishes ‘External speakers in higher education institutions’ guidance for higher education bodies signed by Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge, stating the free speech of guest lecturers who demand segregated audiences mustn’t be ‘curtailed unlawfully’ and ‘a balance of interests is most likely to be achieved if it is possible to offer attendees both segregated and non-segregated seating areas’, which is acceptable ‘assuming the room can be segregated left and right, rather than front and back’.
- Times Higher Education: ‘Some gender segregation in Islamic talks may meet “balance of interests”’
Reports on the UUK guidance, mentioning segregated events where Tzortzis spoke at UCL (March 9) and Leicester University (February 20).
- Daily Telegraph: ‘Universities “can segregate men and women for debates”’
Refers to the UCL debate on March 9 and Student Rights‘ report on segregation of May 13.
- Independent: ‘Freedom of speech is not an “absolute”, university leaders warn’
Mentions the Student Rights report and the NUS’ approval of the guidance, claiming to have been involved in drafting it.
- Louisa Peacock in the Telegraph: ‘Allowing university speakers to segregate genders is outrageous’
Cites Razana Abdul’s testimony in Louise Tickle’s Guardian piece of May 27, Boris Johnson’s comments in the Telegraph from May 26 and the Student Rights report; asks how ‘a modern Britain [can] sit back and allow external speakers to dictate where young men and women sit’, adding ‘We pride ourselves on democracy, on the freedom to choose how we live. I want my children, and children’s children, to grow up knowing the UK respects freedom of choice. . . . We live in a modern, grown up Britain. Let’s start acting like it.’
- Times: ‘Universities “allowed to segregate students”’
- Maryam Namazie: ‘Sex apartheid not discriminatory?’
Quotes and criticises the UUK guidance, stating it forgets ‘segregation of the sexes and the veil are highly contested even amongst Muslims’, and calls for it to be rescinded and for UUK to be contacted to this end; credits Chris Moos for the tip.
- The CEMB calls an anti-segregation protest outside UUK headquarters on December 10 (the UN’s Human Rights Day), with Namazie and Moos as contacts for information (therefore, presumably, the two main organisers).
- Student Rights: ‘Universities UK speaker guidelines excuse gender discrimination’
- Maryam Namazie creates a petition at Avaaz.org, titled ‘Universities UK: Rescind endorsement of sex segregation at UK universities’. It gathers signatures swiftly, reaching many thousands over the following few weeks.
- One Law for All: ‘URGENT ACTION: Rescind endorsement of sex apartheid at UK universities’
Cites the UUK guidance the NUS’ approval of it. Links to the Avaaz.org petition, displaying a diverse list of prominent signatories (among them Dawkins, Kassam, Moos, Namazie, Phadnis, Sanderson, Sutton, Tatchell, Rory Fenton, Marieme Helie Lucas, Pragna Patel and Polly Toynbee, plus many other noted secularists and human rights campaigners). Note that both the CEMB and One Law for All campaign are co-organised by Maryam Namazie.
- CEMB: ‘Urgent Action: Protest against Universities UK endorsement of Sex Segregation at UK universities’
Promotes the petition, naming prominent signatories as above. Also outlines further plans for direct action, providing a (now defunct) Facebook link to the December 10 protest and announcing ‘Teams of Sex Apartheid Busters are being organised to break segregation wherever it is instituted.’
- Chris Moos at Harry’s Place: ‘“You are a woman, you can’t sit here”: UK Universities condones gender segregation’
Opens by stating ‘If the new guidelines by Universities UK, an organisation representing the leadership of UK universities, are adopted, this is a phrase that might become not uncommon to hear at UK universities’. Cites the Student Rights segregation report, UCL’s banning IERA in March after the Krauss-Tzortzis event, the Independent’s coverage of the UUK advice, the contents of the advice itself, the NUS’ support for (and apparent role in creating) it, comments by NSS Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood later republished in the organisation’s 26 November statement (see below), Maryam Namazie’s ‘Not discriminatory?’ blog post from earlier in the day, her Avaaz.org petition, the December 10 demonstration and the opposition to segregation of signatories Dawkins, Toynbee, A.C. Grayling and Gita Sahgal.
- Maryam Namazie: ‘Rescind endorsement of sex segregation at UK universities’
Reproduces the earlier One Law for All update, adding the additions plans announced on the CEMB site.
- Trending Central: ‘British university heads back Islamists in pro-segregation scandal’
States the UUK document ‘has shocked anti-extremism campaigners, as well as those who believe in Western liberal values’ and mentions the Student Rights report, saying (somewhat misleadingly – see notes on the Telegraph’s May 13 story) that it ‘made mention of 25 percent of events monitored being segregated’ and links to Namazie‘s Avaaz petition, noting its having been signed by Dawkins, Grayling, Toynbee and Trending Central editor Raheem Kassam, who I suspect wrote the copy here.
- John Sargeant at Homo economicus’ Weblog: ‘University UK Guidelines Allow Gender Apartheid’
Cites the Telegraph’s coverage of the UUK guidelines, the guidelines themselves and his own post of March 12 on the Krauss-Tzortzis debate.
- Rosie Bell at Shiraz Socialist: ‘WTF is this shit?’
Reproduces the One Law for All statement of the previous day.
- Sara Khan in the Independent: ‘Segregating men and women at university events won’t lead to equality’
Critiques the UUK guidance, noting it ‘delves into trying to tell us what constitutes Muslim religious belief implying that those opposed to segregation must be people from outside of the Islamic faith, not recognising that often it is Muslims themselves who oppose gender segregation.’
- Rory Fenton at the Rationalist Association: ‘Equally separate?’
- British Humanist Association: ‘BHA condemns Universities UK’s endorsement of gender segregation’
Notes the UUK guidance was ‘published amid concerns that extremists are attempting to radicalise young people on university campuses’ and quotes BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal‘s comment, ‘Universities are secular institutions, not places of worship, and sex segregation should have no place in secular spaces in which we expect to find equality between men and women.’
- Charles Crawford at the Commentator: ‘So, farewell then, freedom of speech’
Describes the UUK guidance as ‘a totalitarian land-grab to bring intellectual activity under the direct control of those few anointed, invariably progressive, High Wizards who proclaim the correct ‘geopolitical and socioeconomic factors’ that fall to be considered’, ‘drafted by Sub-Dean Ceausescu with helpful contributions from Rector Stalin and Professors Kafka and Pol Pot’.
- Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge at the UUK site: ‘Universities UK’s external speakers guidance does not promote gender segregation – it highlights universities’ legal obligations’
- Polly Toynbee at the Guardian: ‘British universities shouldn’t condone this kind of gender segregation’
Cites the commentary of Maryam Namazie and the CEMB as well as research on segregated events by the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies (led by Rory Fenton).
- Student Rights: ‘UUK respond to petition against gender segregation guidance’
Noting Dandridge’s response the day before to Namazie‘s petition ‘[of] which Student Rights was one of the initial signatories’, by this stage with over 4000 other signatures, argues that it ‘still does not address the fact that the guidance excuses the enforcement of gender segregation on campuses’, reproducing the UUK statement and linking to the Avaaz.org petition page.
- Organisers of the December 10 demonstration establish a Facebook page, ‘Separate is never equal – Yes to equality, no to segregation’. As of December 27, it has 236 ‘likes’.
- James Bloodworth at Progress: ‘Why the silence on universities kowtowing to bigotry?’
Describes ‘things which at one time would have been viewed as reactionary’ being accommodated ‘if not outright embraced’ by ‘certain bien pensant progressives’, outlining UUK’s publication of its guidance and ‘the support of the normally ultra-politically correct NUS’. ‘Rather than the Ayatollah Khamenei taking over the body which oversees British universities,’ writes Bloodworth, ‘it’s actually identity politics that is to blame . . . with the rights of those considered “oppressed” trumping those of the supposedly “privileged”. . . . Being a Muslim – even an Islamist – trumps being a woman on the identity politics totem, therefore it is equality of the sexes which must fall by the wayside [in] a zero-sum game of appeasing whoever can demand the most ‘rights’ based on perceived oppression. The fact that there hasn’t been a greater degree of outrage about the authorities giving the green light to sexism on campus is testament to how comfortable many comrades have become defending bronze-aged bigotry against the enlightenment values of equality, universal rights and reason.’
- Tab: ‘Uni chiefs back gender segregation’
Cites the segregation cases at UCL and Leicester University as well as UUK’s document and response to critics, as well as Student Rights‘ segregation report.
- BBC News: ‘Universities advised on managing radical speakers’
Reports on UUK’s guidance on checking guests’ speeches in advance and on segregation, referring to 2010 comments by David Cameron on a need to ‘deradicalise our universities’. Little to no mention, conspicuously, is made of the guidance’s many critics.
- Nick Cohen in the Spectator: ‘The segregation of women and the appeasement of bigotry’
Embeds Sondergaard’s footage of Krauss walking out of the UCL debate, relating events there which ended in IERA’s banishment from the campus, and the ‘astonished reaction’ to UUK’s guidance ‘cloth[ing] reactionary policies in the language of liberalism’, describing it as ‘an instant when the liberal establishment became the open and avowed enemy of its best principles.’ Cites Toynbee’s Guardian column of November 26, alleging the paper’s ‘editorial line to date has been that protests against minority religious beliefs are racist’, and compares gender segregation on campuses with segregation of Jews and non-Jews in 1930s Poland and racial segregation in fifties America.
- Daily Telegraph: ‘Extremists in our midst’
Refers to the counter-extremism task force set up by David Cameron following the Woolwich attack and criticises the (allegedly insufficient) ‘measures announced by Theresa May’, stating ‘it would be preferable if universities did not bow to pressure from radicals to segregate the sexes at official events’ and ‘the problem of jihadists returning from Syria’, concluding ‘Mrs May needs to find a way to stop them’.
- Nishith Chennakeshava in the Tab: ‘Uni Gender Segregation Should Not Be Tolerated’
Illustrated with the image of signage from the Leicester University event with Tzortzis on February 20; argues UUK’s ruling ‘shows how we have evolved to think that political correctness is so much more important than our rights’.
- Times: ‘Free speech no excuse for campus bigotry, says May’
Paywalled – but notice it came directly after the Telegraph put pressure on her.
- David Aaronovitch in the Times: ‘Let’s expose these apologists for injustice’
- Yasmin Alibhai Brown in the Independent: ‘It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics’
Refers to the December 10 protest outside UUK headquarters, calling left-to-right separation ‘Separate but equal . . . as Boers ordered society in pre-freedom South Africa’ and the NUS’ support for it ‘disaster for feminism, for university life, for modernism, for progressive ideals and for Muslims most of all.’ ‘Throngs of students, academics, parents, politicians, and feminists should fill Tavistock Square and shout out loud’, writes Alibhai Brown. ‘Not that they will, what with Christmas shopping and perhaps inchoate fears.’
- Maryam Namazie: ‘December 10: Protest Universities UK’s endorsement of Gender Apartheid at British Universities’
Outlines plans to demonstrate the following day, with contact details for Namazie and Chris Moos listed again.
- Huffington Post: ‘Topless Protest Planned Against Universities UK’s “Forced” Gender Segregation Guidelines’
Erroneously reports the demonstration as a nude protest – I’m not sure why. Refers to UUK’s document and Namazie‘s petition, at this point with over 8000 signatories.
- Jim Denham at Shiraz Socialist: ‘No to gender segregation in universities: protest in London today!’
Invites readers to protest later in the day with images of black anti-segregation demonstrators in 1950s America. Quotes an extended statement from One Law for All discussing plans to meet and condemning UUK’s guidance and the NUS’ support for it – oddly, I can’t seem to find the original anywhere online.
- Marieme Helie Lucas at Maryam Namazie‘s blog: ‘Sex segregation in UK universities – a step forward for the Muslim religious-right’
Refers to UUK’s guidance and the resulting criticism. Notes Krauss’ walkout at UCL in March and Sondergaard’s footage of it on Facebook, the statements by ‘concerned students’ about how the event unfolded and the role of UCL staff, Tzortzis’ segregated event at Leicester University and its repercussions, the segregated event at Northampton University on May 1, statements after the fact by Dawkins and Krauss, IERA’s track record, controversy over segregation among Muslims and people of Muslim descent, the treatment of Islamists as representatives of Muslims generally, Yasmin Alibai Brown’s column of December 8, Namazie’s petition and the demonstration later that day.
- Maryam Namazie: ‘Islamists and Universities UK: You have been warned!’
Details plans for the rally that evening and also for the enactment of a ‘Sex Apartheid Busters’ initiative.
- James Bloodworth at Left Foot Forward: ‘Why we’re protesting against gender segregation this evening’
Cites and criticises UUK’s advice, inviting the reader to ‘imagine for a minute the justified furore there would be if racial segregation were permitted on campus on the basis that black and white people were “different but equal” [or] if gay people were separated out from their straight friends on the basis that they were “difference [sic] but equal”, with those refusing to move booted out of the lecture hall for no other reason than their sexuality.’ Lists the time and location of the anti-UUK protest.
- The protest, held by the CEMB and a coalition of other groups here mentioned, assembles at 5pm with a turnout of around 100 and begins at 5.30pm. Speakers according to Denham’s post quoting One Law for All include Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters, Maryam Namazie, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, Anne Marie Waters of the NSS, Julie Bindel of Justice for Women, Charlie Kleinjian of the Lawyers’ Secular Society, Helen Palmer of the Central London Humanist Group, Sam Westrop of Stand for Peace, Sean Oakley of Reading Univerity Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society, Georgi Laag of the London Atheist Activists Group, Palestinian women’s rights campaigner Ahlam Akram, James Bloodworth and Erin Saltman of the Quilliam Foundation.
- Channel 4 News: ‘Gender segregation: protests against university guidelines’
Includes quotes from Moos, Namazie and Saltman; news copy refers to UUK’s guidance, Namazie’s petition, Student Rights’ report in May and the Krauss-Tzortzis event at UCL. Footage suggests demonstrators think universities ‘are putting fees from Middle Eastern students above rights for all’ and shows Oakley speaking to that effect and Namazie (interviewed) describing a ‘climate of fear and intimidation’, also referring to IERA being banned from UCL, and an in-studio debate between Alibhai Brown and FOSIS President Omar Ali.
- BBC News: ‘Universities UK advice “violates women’s freedom”’
Outlines UUK guidance and quotes Akram at the protest. Also refers to an unrelated incident shortly before – covered on this blog – involving Moos and Phadnis. (Audio section originally from the day’s edition of Radio 4 Today.)
- politics.co.uk: ‘“We’ll fight them like the Suffragettes”: Protesters target Universities UK over sex segregation policy’
Quotes a statement (‘Gender apartheid is as abhorrent as race apartheid’) by Peter Tatchell read out by Phadnis at the protest after describing UUK’s stance; mentions the Avaaz.org petition.
- Emma Pearce in the Telegraph: ‘“Gender apartheid” is real in UK universities. So why aren’t more people fighting it?’
Notes the rally ‘attracted only 100 protesters’, being ‘purposely held on . . . the day of Nelson Mandela’s memorial’; refers to UUK’s stance, Namazie’s petition and the May report by Student Rights; quotes Patel of SBS, protesting students Radha Bhatt and Geetanjali Normande, UUK’s defence of its report (erroneously dated December 10) and statements by NUS officials that it doesn’t endorse segregation.
- Student Rights: ‘Rally against UUK excuse of gender segregation: Report’
- Cathy Nugent at the AWL: ‘No gender segregation in universities’
- Matthew d’Ancona in the Standard: ‘We must make Nelson Mandela’s belief in equality a reality’
Mentions ‘Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ group, has given its blessing to separate seating for men and women when external speakers — usually radical preachers — visit campuses. The guidance permits divided seating on left and right: “Both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.”’ ‘One can only hope’, writes d’Ancona, ‘that this disgraceful ruling is reversed forthwith.’
- Nick Cohen in the Spectator: ‘The segregation of women and the appeasement of bigotry at Britain’s universities (part two)’
- Daily Mail: ‘Students demonstrate against “gender apartheid” as Universities UK refuses to ban the separation of sexes during visits by speakers’
Cites Student Rights‘ report and UUK’s guidance, plus the Krauss-Tzortzis debate, segregation at Leicester University and comments by Keith Porteous Wood, Raheem Kassam and Yasmin Alibhai Brown. Ironically, only one line – ‘Students have been protesting outside the London headquarters of Universities UK this week over [UUK’s] stance’ – actually mentions the demonstration.
- Independent: ‘Outcry at “gender apartheid” in new guidance for UK universities’
Mentions protest speeches by Patel and Alibhai Brown; quotes Namazie.
- Telegraph: ‘Backlash grows over university segregation guidelines’
Quotes Namazie and Moos; mentions One Law for All and Student Rights’ segregation report, as well as statements by an NUS representative.
- Jack Straw and Chuka Umunna appear on BBC Radio 4 Today with Nicola Dandridge. Straw describes himself as ‘shocked and appalled’ by UUK’s stance, while Umunna says ‘I was horrified by what I heard . . . let me be absolutely clear, a future Labour government would not allow or tolerate segregation in our universities. It offends basic norms in our society.’
- Sky News: ‘Sex Discrimination: Can Separate Be Equal?’
Refers in very little detail to the December 10 protest and Student Rights’ report.
- Times Higher Education: ‘Gender segregation row: UUK publishes legal advice’
Quotes Fenella Morris, legal advisor to UUK, and Umunna’s comments to Today.
- Huffington Post: ‘Chuka Umunna: Gender Segregation At University Would Be “Outlawed” By Labour’
- Guardian: ‘Gender segregation not “alien to our culture”, says Universities UK chief’
Replicates the Press Association’s copy from the Huffington Post story.
- Standard: ‘Gender segregation “not alien”’
Also replicates the PA’s coverage.
- Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph: ‘Sex segregation on campus is wrong – but that doesn’t mean it should be outlawed’
Cites the Telegraph‘s ‘Backlash grows’ coverage and the BBC‘s story on UUK’s guidance from the day before.
- One Law for All: ‘We will continue our fight against gender apartheid at universities’
Quotes statements at the rally by Patel, Alibhai Brown, Smurthwaite, Bloodworth, Moos, Helie Lucas and Tatchell, as well as Namazie’s own, citing coverage including Channel 4’s December 10 story and December 11’s pieces by the BBC, Independent, Telegraph and Spectator and at politics.co.uk.
- Southall Black Sisters: ‘Campaign against Gender Apartheid in UK Universities’
Links to various stories above, also providing video footage of Patel’s rally speech and a transcription of it.
- Week: ‘Sexual apartheid: is there any room for gender segregation?’
Cites Umunna‘s comments to Today, Namazie’s to the Independent, Toynbee’s in the Guardian, Cohen’s in the Spectator and O’Neill’s in the Telegraph.
- Guardian: ‘Universities UK seeks legal backing over gender segregation guidance’
Quotes Morris on UUK’s guidance, mentioning segregation at Leicester University in February, Student Rights’ report on segregation, the December 10 protest, Dandridge’s comments on Today and Umunna’s in addition.
- James Bloodworth at Left Foot Forward: ‘A future Labour government “will not tolerate” gender segregation in our universities’
Cites the December 10 protest and Alibhai Brown, Tatchell, Patel, Helie Lucas and Namazie specifically, as well as the Avaaz.org petition. Also claims the comments mentioned by Umunna were given while ‘speaking to Left Foot Forward’ – strange, given they precisely resemble those he made on Today the same day.
- Anne Marie Waters at the NSS: ‘Double-talk and betrayal put massive obstacles in the way of women’s rights’
Refers to the protest, attended by Waters on behalf of the NSS, and UUK’s and Dandridge’s statements, as well as Alibhai Brown’s statements on Channel 4.
- Telegraph: ‘No place for segregation at our universities’
Mentions the segregated Leicester University event and Student Rights’ report. Calls left-to-right segregation ‘identical in sentiment to the infamous “separate but equal” spirit of racial segregation found in the pre-Sixties American South. As African-Americans found, it is impossible to separate on the grounds of biology without discriminating, and if a social arrangement is discriminatory then it is self-evidently unequal.’
- Telegraph: ‘Official watchdog says university sex segregation plans “not permissible”’
Reports the Equal and Human Rights Commission has agreed to ‘help rewrite’ UUK’s advice to universities, being unlawful in its then-current form. Cites the ‘Segregation Busters’ plan and mentions, significantly, that ‘A Downing Street spokesman refused to comment.’
- The Daily Mirror: ‘University segregation will be banned under Labour by “horrified” Chuka Umunna’
Refers to UUK’s document ‘prompting student demos’ (though, as far as I can tell, most protesters on December 10 weren’t students) and quotes Umunna’s ‘basic norms of society’ comments.
- Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: ‘Send these hypocritical “liberals” to the back of the class’
Alleges ‘self-styled Leftie “intellectuals” tie themselves in knots to justify abhorrent behaviour by their favoured client groups’, calling Dandridge during her Today appearance ‘on the wireless yesterday’ ‘some dopey bird – who presumably describes herself as a feminist . . . defending the right of universities to segregate the sexes to appease Islamic militants’.
- Daily Mail: ‘Now furious Gove says it’s a disgrace to segregate students and accuses university bosses of “pandering to extremism”’
Quotes Gove’s comments to the paper describing UUK’s guidance as ‘wrong and harmful’. Also cites Student Rights’ report, though eroneously stating it to have been ‘produced this week’ and quotes Rupert Sutton, Sara Khan and Dana Sondergaard, referring to segregated events at UCL and Leicester University as well as UUK’s approaching the EHRC for advice.
- Telegraph: ‘Michael Gove: Do not pander to extremism by endorsing segregation at university’
Cites Gove’s comments to the Mail as well as Umunna’s (and Dandridge’s) on Today.
- Guardian: ‘Michael Gove: university gender segregation is “pandering to extremism”’
Juxtaposes Gove’s statement UUK ‘should withdraw [its guidance] immediately’ with the EHRC’s description of it as ‘not permissible’, adding ‘Universities UK has yet to confirm that it is rewriting the guidance.’
- Huffington Post: ‘Michael Gove: Gender Segregation In Universities Is Pandering To Extremism’
Adds to Gove’s comments – the first story to do so – the announcement UUK’s advice has ‘been withdrawn after David Cameron waded into the row over Universities UK’s advice’. Also provides the first coverage of Dandridge’s response, saying ‘Universities UK agrees entirely with the prime minister that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers. However, where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear. We are working with our lawyers and the EHRC to clarify the position. Meanwhile the case study which triggered this debate has been withdrawn pending this review’ – apparently, this is where both Cameron’s intervention and the case study’s confirmed withdrawal broke in the press. A joint comment from Chris Moos and Abishek Phadnis is also given, welcoming Cameron’s statement, and Umunna is quoted once again.
- Telegraph: ‘Gender segregation guidelines to be reviewed as David Cameron steps into row for the first time’
Reports on UUK having ‘said it would work with the [EHRC] to look again at its guidance . . . as David Cameron’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister disagreed with rules set out by the vice-chancellors’ body.’ Mentions earlier plans for ‘Segregation Busters’ and quotes Moos, calling it ‘outrageous that the EHRC are now suggesting that a policy that would allow for gender segregation merely needs “clarification” and greater “consistency”. It really looks like the EHRC are hedging their bets.”
- politics.co.uk: ‘Campaigners claim victory after Universities UK cancels sex segregation guidance’
Notes UUK’s ‘announcement came hours after the prime minister’s spokesperson said David Cameron felt “very strongly” about the issue’ and that their ‘change in position comes after a week of protests from feminists and secular group[s].’ Quotes Gove and mentions Namazie‘s petition.
- Independent: ‘“We should not pander to extremism”: Michael Gove warns over segregation of men and women in university lectures’
Cites Gove’s comments to the Mail and (immediately next to them) Umunna’s to the BBC.
- James Bloodworth at Left Foot Forward: ‘Gender segregation “not permissible” under equality law’
States UUK ‘may be forced into a humiliating climbdown’ after Cameron’s and the EHRC’s remarks – notably, contrasting with the Huffington Post’s and Telegraph’s statements of their already-confirmed withdrawal. (From what I can make out, Bloodworth’s post did come after both these reports.) Refers to UUK’s pursuit of legal advice, states ‘Left Foot Forward has been at the forefront of the campaign’ and again seems to make the odd claim Umunna’s remarks were made initially to them rather than Today.
- Times: ‘Universities back down on sexual segregation’
- Guardian: ‘Universities UK withdraws advice on gender segregation in lectures’
Refers to the input both of Cameron and the EHRC, as well as Gove’s comments to the Mail, and also specifies that ‘Business Secretary Vince Cable . . . was writing to UUK calling for the guidance to be amended to clarify the distinction between private worship and areas of public learning [and] said: “I am clear that forced segregation of any kind, including gender segregation, is never acceptable on campuses.”’ This is the first mention of comments by Cable.
- Evening Standard: ‘Sex segregation at UK universities must end, David Cameron says’
Mentions Gove‘s commentary as well as Cameron’s, and cites ‘a 2008 poll [that] found nine in 10 Muslim students regarded segregation as unacceptable at university’ – I’m not sure which poll this is, especially since newspapers tend to report them incredibly badly, but there’s a chance it’s this one.
- James Bloodworth at Left Foot Forward : ‘Gender segregation guidelines withdrawn by Universities UK’
Writes ‘After our protest on Tuesday, followed by interventions by the Prime Minister David Cameron and shadow business secretary Chuka Ummuna, Universities UK has now said it will review the controversial guidelines.’ Cites the Guardian’s coverage and links to Maryam Namazie’s ‘We will continue’ post.
- Maryam Namazie amends the version of One Law for All‘s ‘We will continue our fight’ statement originally cross-posted to her blog on December 12 (I suspect after seeing the pingback from Bloodworth’s post, though it’s possible the order was the other way around), adding that ‘Soon after the rally, which received widespread coverage, including when Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to oppose sex segregation at universities, UUK was forced to withdraw its guidance. Whilst this fight has been won, the battle continues particularly since sex segregation is still taking place at universities and UUK has said it hopes to redraft the guidance.’ (For what it’s worth, only politics.co.uk’s coverage of Cameron’s intervention seems at this point to have mentioned the December 10 protest, and it seems debatable to me – unclear, at least – exactly what the demonstration’s role in prompting it was as opposed to other factors listed here.)
- Rumy Hasan at The Conversation: ‘Segregation and censorship on campus must not be tolerated’
Links to the Guardian’s story on UUK withdrawing its advice after Cameron’s comments, cites Umunna’s and mentions a separate conflict Moos and Phadnis had with LSE officials.
- NSS: ‘Universities UK withdraws its guidance on gender segregation’
Provides comment from NSS President Sanderson and cites the input of the EHRC and the views aired by Umunna, Gove and Cameron, plus Dandridge’s response to the latter. It’s worth pointing out at this point that much of the coverage of UUK’s retraction connects it with Cameron’s views as stated by his spokesperson at Downing Street, but it seems possible based on the Telegraph‘s December 12 story on the EHRC‘s ‘not permissible’ comments that UUK’s case study had already been withdrawn for reconsideration when Cameron entered the fry, and Dandridge’s reply only confirmed this.
- Channel 4 News: ‘Gender segregation guidelines u-turn following PM warning’
Notes input from the EHRC, Gove and Cameron, and embeds footage of studio debates featuring both Namazie and Alibhai Brown.
- Evening Standard: ‘PM “clear” on gender segregation’
Cites the EHRC, Gove and Cameron, saying ‘Mr Cameron told Channel 4 News: “I’m absolutely clear that there shouldn’t be segregated audiences for visiting speakers to universities in Britain. That is not the right approach, the guidance shouldn’t say that, universities should not allow this and I’m very clear about that.”’ This seems to be a new statement (and to have been made by Cameron personally and not a spokesperson), but I can’t find it anywhere in Channel 4’s coverage online, although all other citations Google lists attribute it to them.
- Independent: ‘Universities UK withdraws rules on gender segregation’
Mentions both Cameron and Gove.
- Times Higher Education: ‘UUK gender segregation case study withdrawn’
Cites Cameron, Gove, Umunna and the EHRC.
- Student Rights: ‘Victory for campaigners as UUK withdraw gender segregation guidelines’
Cites Cameron, the December 10 protest and the EHRC’s criticism and congratulating ‘all those involved in this campaign, including: One Law for All; Southall Black Sisters; Left Foot Forward; the Lawyers’ Secular Society; the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies; LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society; the National Secular Society; the Peter Tatchell Foundation; the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain [and] British Muslims for Secular Democracy’ (founded by Alibhai Brown).
- Sky News: ‘Cameron: No To University Segregation’
Cites Cameron, Gove, Umunna and Student Rights’s report, also noting ‘Downing Street’s intervention in the row follows angry demonstrations by students outraged at the advice.’
- Graeme Archer in the Telegraph: ‘A shameful case of apartheid in Britain’
Accuses ‘the liberal Left in Britain [of not having] learnt anything at all from Mandela’s story . . . those in charge of our universities appear to be completely deaf to what the man was trying to say. . . . Whether you keep blacks from whites or Jews from gentiles – or women from men – then you are tolerating apartheid. . . . oh, that you were with us now, Rosa Parks . . . this is the predictable outcome of the Left’s obsession with identity politics . . . the endpoint of Labour’s equality fixation: medieval Islamism can be imposed on public spaces . . . You woke up in Britain – the mother of parliaments, Magna Carta, freedom of conscience; how we like to remember our glory days, don’t we, lest we lament the gap between our own dreams and the downtrodden reality. You read about Universities UK and think: imagine if those people had been in charge of apartheid-era South Africa.’
- Huffington Post: ‘Universities UK Withdraws Guidance Over Gender Segregation In Lectures And Debates’
Cites Cameron, the ECHR and Gove.
- Sarah Brown at Harry’s Place: ‘More on gender segregation’
Links to the Guardian’s coverage of the guidelines’ withdrawal, contrasting Dandridge’s defence of them with quotations from their contents.
- Telegraph: ‘Universities pull back from sex segregation as Cameron weighs in’
Cites Cameron and Gove‘s criticism of UUK and the Telegraph’s own December 12 coverage of the ECHR’s. Includes the same statement from Chris Moos as the paper’s coverage earlier in the day and one from Maryam Namazie that ‘It is good that David Cameron has intervened but I have little faith that UUK will do the right thing. We want to see very clear guidance that segregation is unacceptable in public places like universities.’
- Daily Mail: ‘Inside the British university where Muslims were segregated by sex: Shocking picture shows how men were reserved front-row seats while women had to sit at the back’
Includes photographs from a January 2013 event at Leicester University ISoc and refers to Student Rights’s report on segregation and the EHRC’s opposition, quoting Rupert Sutton and David Cameron.
- I’m not able to date it, but at some point around this time, UUK replaces the guidance listed on its site with an edited version removing reference to segregation – this is the one currently available.
- Daily Mail: ‘Universities cave in over sex segregation after Cameron condemns demands by radical preachers’
States ‘Universities last night caved in after Mr Cameron intervened to warn them it was unacceptable.
The Prime Minister told Sky News: “I’m absolutely clear that there should not be segregated audiences for visiting speakers to universities in Britain.[“] . . . Mr Cameron’s intervention came after Education Secretary Michael Gove told the Mail that he believed universities were guilty of “pandering to extremism”. Also points to criticism from Umunna and the EHRC alongside Student Rights’s report and states ‘Protesters hold up placards rejecting “gender apartheid” outside the headquarters of Universities Uk’.
- Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express: ‘Scandal of sexist seating’
States what UUK’s stance on segregation ‘is about is the financial muscle now exercised by foreign students – who take up more university places in Britain than in almost any other country. Many come from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, neither famous for an enlightened approach to women. But they pay big fees. University College London charges UK students £9,000, but demands up to £16,250 from its foreign students, while a foreign medical student has to pay £27,500. Universities need the money, radical Islamists get a foothold, demanding everyone respects their culture unquestioningly otherwise they’ll go screaming to the authorities about their human rights.’ (I’ve blogged already about why this view of Muslim international students – whether or not authorities hold it too – doesn’t stand up.) ‘Why’, Selway adds, ‘why should we respect practices that are so alien especially as Christians are routinely made to feel like second-class citizens? How can our universities – which should be totems of national pride, places of rationality and free speech – cave in without even a squeak of defiance? . . . single-sex schools remain a traditional part of British culture. What is not part of our culture is the belief that men are so easily inflamed by lust that they must be kept away from females.’
- BBC News: ‘University segregation row: Ministers call for clarity’
Reports ‘PM David Cameron told Channel 4 News’ UUK’s guidance was wrong, and that ‘Business Secretary Vince Cable, whose department has responsibility for universities, has now written to UUK urging it to clarify its position. “I am clear that forced segregation of any kind, including gender segregation, is never acceptable on campuses,” he said.’ Also notes ‘Baroness Perry of Southwark, chairwoman of the House of Lords backbench education committee, said she was “outraged” by the guidance. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was contrary to “the long struggle that the brave women of the early academics in the 19th Century had to get the provision to sit in lectures”.’
- Kate Maltby in the Spectator: ‘Gender segregation: radical speakers cannot demand an audience that fits their prejudice’
Maltby, who attended the December 10 protest, writes that ‘protest sometimes works: by Friday, the beleaguered [UUK] had shifted their position . . . thanks in part to criticism by Michael Gove and David Cameron’ and that since she’s heard IERA are considering a European court case ‘Those who want Britain to stay in the EU, and committed to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights – not to be confused with Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)], had better start hoping the ECHR come down on the side of common sense.’ Links to Nick Cohen’s December 3 post and mentions segregated events at UCL in March and Leicester University in February; also embeds audio from Maltby (introduced as a writer at ConservativeHome) debating segregationist Fatima Barkatulla on BBC Radio 4 Today.
- Jim Denham at Shiraz Socialist: ‘After UUK’s climb-down, keep up the fight against relativism!’
Begins ‘At first it looked as though we were shouting into the wilderness: a few blogs (including us at Shiraz) drew attention to the outrage, and a small demonstration took place; just 8,000 people signed an online petition’, seemingly ignoring quite extensive coverage and criticism of UUK’s stance in (particularly right-leaning) media long before the December 10 protest. Adds that ‘Then the issue seemed to take off. To his credit, Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umanna declared that a Labour government would outlaw gender segregation at universities, and – belatedly – Cameron intervened’.
- Matthew d’Ancona in the Telegraph: ‘Campus segregation: “religious freedom” cannot be allow to trump equality’
Wonders if Christopher Hitchens might have been more impressed by David Cameron had he witnessed his intervention on segregation; also notes (but doesn’t link to) the same mysterious ‘2008 YouGov poll’ as earlier, and cites Gove’s statements about ‘pandering to extremism’
- Louise Mensch in the Sun on Sunday: ‘How dare our unis back gender based apartheid?’
- The Observer: ‘Segregation: our secular values need to be protected’
Headed, like seemingly any piece the Guardian site ever runs on anything at all secularist, with a picture of Richard Dawkins: notes his ‘heads should roll’ comment from after the Krauss-Tzortzis debate at UCL. Notes also the opposition of ‘student protesters [see notes on the Mirror‘s piece of December 12], academics, feminists and, belatedly, politicians’, including specifically Cameron, Cable and Gove, and details both Krauss’ and Dawkins’s response to segregation at UCL, where it mentions IERA being banned.
- Catherine Bennett in the Guardian: ‘Segregation by gender has no place in our public realm’
Refers to Krauss’s walkout and to the opposition to segregation of Jack Straw, Chuka Umunna, David Cameron, Michael Gove and ‘Muslim women such as’ Sara Khan, Maryam Namazie and Yasmin Alibhai Brown (a designation to which I suspect Namazie would object). Also notes that ‘“Maintain segregation between brothers and sisters” is how [FOSIS] advises student organisers, “keeping interactions between them at a minimum.”’
- Joan Smith at the Independent: ‘Do stay out of religion, David Cameron, it’s not your job’
Blames segregation’s popularity on British political leaders attempting to create, in Sayeeda Warsi’s words, ‘the most pro-faith government in the West’; cites Cameron and Gove’s opposition.
- Rosie Bell at Shiraz Socialist: ‘The segregationists unseated’
Gives an account of anti-segregation developments in which ‘Student Rights picked [UUK’s guidance] up’, ‘the bloggers you’d expect . . . produced angry posts’ (Bloodworth, Namazie and Ophelia Benson, whose – extensive – posts aren’t listed here since she’s a U.S. writer), ‘mainstream media moved in – Nick Cohen in the Spectator, and Yasmin Alibai-Brown, finely furious, in the Independent’, ‘[t]here was a petition and a small demonstration which Channel 4 covered at length’, ‘the BBC began to thunder’ with the editions of Today from December 11 and 12, ‘politicians – Chuka Umunna, Jack Straw, Michael Gove, David Cameron spoke out’ (‘Under the threads of their statements in the Guardian’, writes Bell, ‘commenters were saying, Bugger me, the horrible Tory creeps are right this time’) and ‘So now the UUK has withdrawn gender segreation from its guidelines. It looks like the forces of light have won for once. Congratulations to those who attended protests and wrote copiously.’ (Needless to say I – and, I think, this timeline – somewhat parts aspects of this account, as well as the implied chain of cause and effect.)
- Yasmin Alibhai Brown in the Independent: ‘The Talibanisation of British universities has got to stop’
‘Result!’ the column begins. ‘In one week, we, a small group of stalwarts, Muslims and non-Muslims, who are opposed to sexual apartheid in our universities, raised the slumbering politicians and jolted gutless academics. Universities UK (UUK) will reconsider its guidelines which sanctify gender discrimination in the name of freedom of speech and equal access.’ ‘By Friday’, it concludes, ‘UUK had shed its overconfidence and seemed to be wavering. I predict the guidance will be binned. This Talibanisation of British universities has got to stop. Now I think it might be.’