Warwick SU reverses ban on secular activist
A decision by Warwick University’s Student Union to ban an ex-muslim human rights campaigner has been overturned, describing the move as a “highly regrettable error”.
The decision comes after a widespread campaign to reverse the decision, which included a boycott of the University by high-profile speakers.
Maryam Namazie, a spokesperson for Iran solidarity movement and the Council of Ex-Muslims, was invited to speak by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society (WASH) at the end of October.
However, Warwick Students’ Union initially blocked the invitation stating: “After researching her and her organisation, a number of red flags have been raised.
“There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus”.
A petition demanding the decision be reversed, set up by WASH Society Chair Benjamin David, received more than 5,000 signatures in five days.
Following reports of the ban, many high-profile figures such as Richard Dawkins questioned the decision, stating that to forbid a speaker you disagree with is a “contemptible betrayal of everything a university stands for”.
On Twitter, Professor Brian Cox voiced his support, saying: “We can’t allow for over-sensitive students to wrap themselves in cotton wool”.
In the wake of social media backlash over the decision, Warwick University’s Student Union published a statement overturning the ban and offering an “unequivocal apology” to Ms Namazie.
In a statement, Warwick Students’ Union said: “We want to assure everyone of our continued commitment to free speech”.
Warwick SU have also said they will be re-examining the process of assessing external speakers.
By Phoebe Day and Joseph Petrovic