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.”  [Read more…]

Nicola Dandridge speaks

I’ve just been listening to Today’s Today programme on UUK and gender segregation. I’ve got to run off so will post later but there it is for your listening pleasure fury. It starts just before 2 hrs 10.

I find Dandridge simply astonishing. I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. Fortunately Justin Webb sounds almost as incredulous as I am, and he keeps pushing back.

Jack Straw is very definite about what he thinks.

The BBC and everyone really needs to stop saying UUK represents UK universities, because (if David Colqhoun is right, and I think he would know) it doesn’t, it represents the vice-chancellors, not the universities. That does make a difference.

Dandridge actually seems to think that not acceding to an external speaker’s demand that the audience be segregated by gender is a violation of free speech. She certainly says that.

‘Have the people who are likely to come to this event agreed to the segregation?’

The BBC reports on UUK’s statement.

Universities UK says it has today requested legal clarification from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In a letter, Universities UK which represents 132 institutions, has asked the Commission to consider having the issue clarified by the High Court, “or provide a clear and public statement about the law and the relevant policy considerations”.

The row over the UUK guidance has sparked protests from students and some MPs. [Read more…]

UUK speaks at last

Universities UK has issued a press release on the gender segregation issue.

Statement from Universities UK:

Universities UK’s publication External speakers in higher education institutions aims to provide guidance to institutions in managing the process for inviting external speakers onto campus, both in terms of upholding principles of free speech, and also complying with the law. It was produced with significant input from a range of organisations and individuals (referenced in the full report) as well as extensive legal advice. [Read more…]

Nick Cohen spurns the proffered compromise

Nick Cohen has posted round 2 of his disagreement with Universities UK over its guidance on gender segregation.

On the Today programme this morning Justin Webb covered the decision by Universities UK to allow fundamentalist speakers to segregate women from men at public meetings.

With a characteristic disdain for accepted standards of behaviour, Universities UK refused to go on air and answer his questions. Webb had to ‘put the other side of the story’ himself. He told a Palestinian woman demonstrating outside Universities UK headquarters in central London, [1hr 36mins in] ‘What Universities UK say is, if non segregated seating is also provided it could be all right.’ [Read more…]

Channel 4 reported on the protest

Channel 4 reported not just the protest but also the subject of the protest, and did it rather well, too.

They talked to Maryam there. Meet Maryam!

Chris Moos, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, who is attending the protest, told Channel 4 News: “What we want to achieve is for Universities UK to immediately rescind their guidelines condoning gender segregation, and issue guidelines that clearly lay out that any kind of segregation, whether under racist, cultural, religious, nationalistic or sexist pretences, is wrong and has no place in the public space.” [Read more…]

What will they do if a Muslim female Mandela sits with the men?

If you do go to that protest in Tavistock Square tomorrow, you might see Yasmin Alibhai-Brown there. She plans to go. She minces no words in her piece on the subject in the Independent.

Sexist dress codes and other behaviours are being spread and pushed in British universities by retrograde Islamic societies and individuals, most of them men – though there are always willing maidens who say “yes, yes, yes” to such diktats. UUK upholds this apartheid and offers up nauseating justifications. It’s done in the name of free speech. Yes, really. “Concerns … [for the] beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief systems.” Furthermore, staff should not worry unduly about the rights and wrongs of this small matter. [Read more…]

A revival in adherence to normative Islamic practices

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. [Read more…]

And still no response from UUK

The Universities UK blog continues to get strongly critical comments on Nicola Dandridge’s post defending its position on gender segregation. It also continues not to reply to any of them.

The latest is by Chris Moos, summing up the state of play.

43 comments, each and every one of them negative. And still no response from UUK.. Who is charge of PR again? or is everyone too busy writing reports that figure out how to [defend?] other kinds of segregation practices? [Read more…]

Swimming in Tukwila

Jeez, even here in Seattle. Although this time it’s about women-only (and sometimes also men-only) times at municipal swimming pools. That’s a bit of a special case, in a way, since it requires being sparsely dressed. But…it’s also the thin end of the slippery nose under the tent. Wait, that’s not quite right…

Earlier this month, a resident filed a gender-discrimination complaint with the state Human Rights Commission (HRC), challenging not the women’s swim time at the Tukwila pool but the men-only component, after she said she was unable to accompany and supervise her 11-year-old son there. [Read more…]