He is concerned about the security risk for delegates

Padraig Reidy reports at Little Atoms that Queens University Belfast has canceled a scheduled symposium on

can you guess what?

On Charlie Hebdo.

The irony is so multiple and reflexive that I think it may be about to suck the entire universe into itself and then disappear.

The symposium: Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, was due to be hosted in June by QUB’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities. But delegates, including Oxford University philosophy professor Brian Klug, were informed via email on Monday (20 April) that the event would not go ahead.

The email informed speakers: “The Vice Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast has made the decision just this morning that he does not wish our symposium to go ahead. He is concerned about the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university.”

Professor Klug said this morning he is “baffled” and “dismayed” by the decision.

“I don’t understand either of his concerns. The second – the reputation of the university – strikes me as ironic, as his action does not exactly reflect well on Queens,” he told Little Atoms via email.

Just kidding! The duck’s off!

Index on Censorship Chief Executive Jodie Ginsberg commented: “If all public discussion on important issues is shut down because of security fears then the terrorists have won. Free speech – including the free exchange of ideas – is vital for democracy and universities in particular should be the torch bearers for free expression.”

They already have won a huge amount. They already have shut down many discussions, they already have moved Garry Trudeau to spit on his own vocation, they already have trained well-meaning people to think they must never breathe a word of criticism of Islam or Islamists.

Little Atoms has made repeated attempts to acquire a statement from Queen’s University Belfast on this story, but the institution is yet to comment. We will update as soon as we receive a reply. The university has been informed of publication.

Update 6:55pm 21/04/2015: We understand that Queen’s is refusing to talk to the press.

Update 7:03pm 21/04/2015: A spokesperson for QUB has called Little Atoms to confirm that the symposium will not go ahead, and that the university will make no further comment.


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