The iERA, the Islamic Education and Research Academy, has issued a press release agreeing (surprise surprise!) with UUK’s guidelines on
girl cooties gender segregation. Tl; dr: it’s religious freedom, it’s great.
The debate about separation came to the fore earlier this year at an iERA event entitled: “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” between Hamza Tzortzis and Professor Lawrence Krauss at the University College of London (UCL) on 9th March 2013. UCL subsequently refused to take any further bookings from iERA, accusing them of “forced segregation”.
iERA later released its own findings of an externally supervised investigation into the accusation of forced gender segregation at the debate. The investigation concluded that there was no such policy or evidence that it occurred on the night. Rather, in line with its duties under the Equality Act 2010, iERA had attempted to provide for the needs of all attendees by providing separate areas of seating for men and women (for those that wished to adhere to their deeply-held religious beliefs) as well as a mixed seating area.
Leaving aside the fact that it wasn’t just “providing,” it was enforcing, that is still a worthless attempt at justification. As many of us have pointed out ad nauseam in the last few days, you could just as easily talk of providing separate areas of seating for whites and blacks (for those that wished to adhere to their deeply-held religious beliefs), or for Jews and Gentiles (for those that wished to adhere to their deeply-held religious beliefs), or for straights and gays, or for those with university degrees and those without. You could, and it would be wrong in all cases. Citing “deeply-held religious beliefs” as an excuse is beside the point, and an unsubtle form of theocratic bullying.
Abdurraheem Green, Chairman of iERA, stated: “With a growing number of Muslims countries seeing a revival in adherence to normative Islamic practices, the idea of being forced to sit with people of the opposite sex and observing the adoption of anti-Islamic policies by British Universities might well lead many to avoid choosing this country to further their education. Such behaviour is not in the economic interests of universities or indeed the country as a whole. iERA as an organisation is known and respected throughout the Muslim world for its work in inviting people to Islam. Hearing of iERA being banned from UCL and other universities certainly does not send a positive message about how welcome they will be to study in this country.”
Ah yes, there you have it – a growing number of Muslim countries seeing a revival in adherence to normative Islamic practices, and a growing number of fans of that revival doing everything they can to foster and impose it everywhere else in the world.
No thank you. No normative theistic practices of any kind, thank you, not in the public sphere. Revive in your living rooms and your mosques or churches all you want, but not in the shared public space.