The assertion of religious political power

The Telegraph reported on the gender segregation protest.

Maryam Namazie, a researcher at the University of London and one of the organisers of the event, said that she has noticed a rise of Islamism across UK Universities that is not truly representing the views of most Muslims.   She said: “In the UUK’s efforts to be inclusive they are encouraging sexism and endorsing discrimination.

“It’s about free speech and its about Islamists imposing their rules and projecting women as symbols of chaos in society.” 

A whole host of speakers were at the protest that climaxed in the chanting of ‘shame on UUK’ directed at the organisation’s headquarters.

There’s a picture of people at the protest above that passage, with Maryam in the foreground. (And trees overhead that look oddly leafy for December.)

“Words cannot fully describe what I feel today,” said Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters, a feminist group. “Rage, indignation and sorrow are just some that spring to mind.” And she went on to say “that the assertion of religious political power obliterates the very ideas of liberty and equality that so many people lived for and died for”.

‘Separate but equal’ is not equal at all was the message being spread by protesters. And of course it isn’t. By pursuing the appeasement of these religious fundamentalists anyone is right to question where this might end?

You would also be right to question why splitting people on race or sexuality would cause public outrage but splitting people on gender has received relatively little attention?

Last night’s protest echoed much of what Nelson Mandela fought for. Ms Patel likened the two examples by saying that UUK’s justification for its actions was that it was “trying to uphold equalities law [but] this was the same defence they used for racial apartheid in South Africa”.

Trying to uphold equalities law by throwing women overboard. Hmm.

Two young women at the rally, from Oxbridge, were concerned about the progress of girls in higher education.

Radha Bhatt, 19, a student at Cambridge University, said: “I am absolutely shocked and concerned that this segregation is still going on … the idea that Muslim leaders are uncomfortable with men and women sitting together and that UUK is appeasing them shows that they have a problem with co-education.”

Geetanjali Normande, 20, from Oxford University, said: “It scares me that institutions like UUK which exist to represent universities and the student body find that it is acceptable to condone this. It sounds like they are so   far removed from what it is to be a student and to be told that you can’t sit where you want to in your lecture.

“I grew up in a very religious background but my family are extremely supportive of me getting an education.”

It’s only Universities UK that’s not so supportive.




  1. Francisco Bacopa says

    If they don’t like men and women sitting together they should not speak where people are likely to do so. Problem solved. Public universities are just such a place. If they request gender segregation, they should not get it. They should also get same sex couples kissing in the front row, though that row should be two women/two men and so on.

    They should hold their gender segregated events in their own mosques. But if they invite the general public, they should expect mixed seating.

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