To anyone sufficiently familiar with the politics of the contemporary student left, attempts to censor speakers for the alleged crime of bigotry should not come as a surprise. Neither should the endorsement of Islamists and their list of grievances. Nevertheless, the endorsement by young progressives of a society that promotes regressive speakers in the service of suppressing the voice of a feminist ex-Muslim still has the capacity to shock. It is especially shocking because the groups who have endorsed these attempts to bully a progressive ex-Muslim are the feminist society and the LGBTQ society.
On Monday, November 30th, Maryam Namazie, a plain-spoken critic of Islamism and tireless advocate for ex-Muslims, gave a speech organised by the Goldsmiths Athiest, Secularist and Humanist society. Earlier that day, the Islamic society at Goldsmiths University objected to her right to give the speech, citing that her alleged Islamophobia is in violation of the safe space policy at the university. Her speech went ahead. Or, should I say, started ahead – for during her speech, Namazie was constantly interrupted and heckled and abused by members of the Islamic society. It was thuggery befitting fascists. What was the response to this by the feminist society and LGBTQ society? Essentially: intolerant and thuggish fascists need safe spaces too.
According to the feminist society:
Goldsmiths Feminist Society stands in solidarity with Goldsmiths Islamic Society. We support them in condemning the actions of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and agree that hosting known islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred.
Maryam Namazie is a “known islamophobe” only to the ignorant or those who conflate criticism of Islam and hatred of Islamism with hatred of Muslims. In other words, she is a bigot to those who essentially support blasphemy law.
According to Goldsmiths LGBTQ society:
Following recent events on- and offline, we would like to state and show our solidarity with the sisters and brothers of our Goldsmiths ISOC society.
We condemn AHS and online supporters for their islamophobic remarks, attitudes, and harassment. If they feel intimidated, we urge them to look at the underpinnings of their ideology. We find that personal and social harm enacted in the name of ‘free speech’ is foul, and detrimental to the wellbeing of students and staff on campus.
We hope this series of events prompts reflection in all parties involved, but also onlookers. Allyship consists of apologies, bearing with and deconstructing discomfort, respecting the necessary privacy of safer spaces, and opening our hearts to humans unlike ourselves.
Before examining the underpinnings of the Atheist and Humanist society ideology, one should first examine Goldsmiths’ Islamic society.
In 2011, they invited to speak at their annual dinner Abdurraheem Green and Hamza Tzortzis. Green believes that a husband is permitted to beat his wife if she misbehaves, and that homosexuality should not be permitted in society; Tzortzis has supported child-marriage.
In 2014, Goldsmiths Islamic society invited Cage Prisoners – a group whose dalliance with terrorism and extremism is well-documented. CAGE has supported a wide range of Islamist terrorists – from Abu Hamza to Anwar al-Awlaki. The deputy director of CAGE, Asim Qureshi, has twice refused when interviewed on TV to answer whether he thinks adulterers should be stoned to death.
So the feminist and LGBTQ society think it appropriate to ban a vocal opponent of wife-beating, lethal homophobia, apostasy laws and terrorism, whilst supporting a society that promotes and invites misogynistic and homophobic Islamists. No-platforming for left-wing critics of Islamist oppression; safe-spaces for thugs that endorse theocratic fascists: this is the dysfunctional moral compass now crippling the mainstream student left.
Ideas and beliefs should not be beyond scrutiny in any society that regards itself as free – especially if those ideas are used to oppress. Universities should not be considered safe spaces for any young person cognisant of the fact that open societies necessitates you tolerate speech that you dislike. Instead, what we have here is a culture of progressives, disaffected by liberal principles, pointedly incurious or delusional about the people they’re defending, marginalising the voice of someone who speaks up for vulnerable people. For people who don’t have the benefit of languidly complaining about safe spaces; for people who don’t have the benefit of coming out as gay to their parents or telling them they’re atheist or having a boyfriend; people who dare to behave in a way that doesn’t suit the stereotype of brown people, and instead think for themselves. People who don’t cry or wallow in shallow victimhood because they’re offended by the misuse of a pronoun or the wearing of problematic clothes. These people are alone because the student left has abandoned them in pursuit of the solipsistic politics of grievance.
Let’s recap: A feminist society and a LGBTQ society are supporting the marginalisation of a feminist and pro-gay rights ex-Muslim by a group that promotes homophobes and misogynists. End of analysis.