Goldsmiths Student Union request and more

I have received the following email from the Chief Executive of Goldsmiths Students’ Union today (one of three since yesterday) asking to remove the video of my talk for the Atheists Society on Monday 30 November on Apostasy, Blasphemy and Free Expression in the age of ISIS. You can see my reply refusing to do so below.

I’m disappointed and concerned to see that the video you have posted of you speaking at the event at Goldsmiths hosted by Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and entitled: Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’ has still not been removed.

A number of students have complained about the video as their consent to be filmed was not asked at the start of the meeting by your camera-operator and this is now viewable on a public website. This is very distressing for these students and we therefore ask that this video is removed from your site as a matter of urgency.

Again, I would appreciate a response asap so I can reassure students that action is being taken. Thank you.

I wrote back:

Thank you for your email.

We won’t be removing the video of my talk at Goldsmiths and the attempts at intimidation carried out by a number of the Islamic Society’s “brothers”. The video has now gone viral and been posted on numerous media outlets and other websites.

I am sorry for any distress caused, particularly as a result of the intimidation tactics of the Islamic Society prior, during and after my talk, and in particular that caused by some of the ISOC “brothers” who attempted to disrupt the event. Nonetheless, this was a public meeting; all those attending saw it being videotaped and made no requests for anonymity. There was implied consent. Moreover, given that some ISOC members have made their own selective clips of the meeting and publicised it on social media, a video of the entire meeting is needed to clarify any misinformation and provide the full facts. This is particularly crucial given that the Goldsmiths Atheist Society is calling for an investigation into the debacle.

I look forward to Goldsmiths investigation and hope that it helps to put an end to its ISOC’s unrestrained attempts at creating fear and intimidation at the expense of free expression and dissent.

If you haven’t also heard, both the Feminist Society and LGBTQ+ Society of Goldsmiths have come out with solidarity messages – for the Islamic Society – and of course not for me. The irony…


Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain expresses concern at the exclusion of Muslim women from demands for gender equality

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is appalled to learn of the Bristol University Christian Union’s ban on women speaking at its main meetings and events. The sexist policy, which demonstrated a blatant disregard for gender equality, has now been reversed after an ensuing uproar.

Whilst the CEMB congratulates those involved in the successful campaign to uphold basic principles of equality in the face of religiously-inspired misogyny, we remain concerned that the same treatment handed out to women by Islamic societies is routinely ignored, creating a double standard.

Whilst questions are now rightly being asked about the policies of Christian Unions elsewhere in the country, no one has yet dared publicly inquire as to the treatment of women by Student Union Islamic Societies, in Bristol or elsewhere. It appears that the likely findings may prove too awkward for many, fearful that legitimate questioning may be met with unfounded but nevertheless problematic accusations of racism and intolerance. The result is an unequal treatment with regards women under Islam as opposed to Christianity, which undermines the very same principle of universal equality that vocal opponents of the Christian Union policy endeavoured to defend. [Read more…]