Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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Trinity College Dublin: Behind the Arras

Maryam Namazie dismisses as whitewash the hogwash that featured in University Times by way of explanation for he cancellation of her speaking engagement at Trinity College Dublin. Maryam Namazie is a political activist, campaigner and blogger She is the Spokesperson for Fitnah - Movement for Women's Liberation, Equal Rights Now, One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She works closely with Iran Solidarity, which she founded, and the International Committee against Stoning.


And so the whitewash begins with an “article” (or should we say editorial) by University Times on the cancellation of my talk at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism”, which was meant to be given today at an event organised by the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA). Though the SoFIA chair asserts that I withdrew from the event, it is in fact the Society, which cancelled the event after my request that it go ahead as initially planned without any of the last-minute restrictions imposed, namely that all attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk and that a moderator be added for “balance”.

The “article” is full of irrelevances and misinformation in order to muddy the waters so that the main issue at hand is forgotten as is usual in such cases. The main issue is that my right to speak was restricted by TCD whilst Islamist speakers like Kamal El Mekki who advocate the death penalty for apostates face no such restrictions. But more on this later.

Let me first briefly address the main points of misinformation raised in the article:

1. The article asserts that “miscommunication” around the event being public was all “hinged” on one “individual student’s involvement” who “never asked [SoFIA] [its] terms”.

It now seems that the student liaison facilitating my talk is the reason for this entire scandal! Acting on his own accord, and without coordinating with SoFIA, he alone is responsible for my misguided impression that the event was to be public. I am assured that SoFIA only holds members-only events! Even if there was a public Facebook page it was because of this “individual student”. The Society I am told cannot be held responsible for the “assumption as to conditions which it itself did not offer”.

This, however, is untrue. The screenshot below shows Aoife McLoughlin-Ngo, the SoFIA Chair, stating: “there are 2 events pages – the page I’m linking is open to people outside of SoFIA members page”. So much for the event “hinging” on an “individual student”! The fall guy scenario that was put into motion after the scandal became public knowledge is a bogus one. This now explains why the Facebook page for the event was so quickly deleted.




The second point of misinformation is that Trinity College Dublin “had no involvement” in discussions with me about my scheduled appearance. This is a half-truth. Yes, they were not involved in discussions with ME but they were heavily involved in discussions around my talk before and after the scandal was made public. Noel McCann, the TCD Facilities Officer, told the student liaison that he was meeting with the “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event will be “allowed” to go ahead as planned. Even now, the delay in the publication of SoFIA’s statement on the cancellation of my talk is because it had to be approved by the Central Societies Committee and Communications Office.

The third point of misinformation is that the issues raised by the Facilities Officer were around matters of “student security”. I think it is clear that the last-minute requirement that an academic (Dr Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity) “chair” my event has very little to do with security.

Rather, it had to do with the concern that I would cause “offence”.

The student liaising my visit was told by Noel McCann that my talk would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students”. He asked how “could she come and say whatever she wants without a moderator” and “with half the world knowing about it”. He also threatened to cancel it and said that he was meeting with “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event would be “allowed” to go ahead. But according to the college:”these discussions [are] considered to be private and in response to the student’s own concerns”!

The crux of the matter, therefore, is “private” and the non-issues and misinformation have become the main points of discussion for the Society and TCD.

This is nothing new. Islamism, a far-Right political movement, is often seen to be one and the same with the falsely homogenised “Muslim community”, thereby implying that hate preachers like Mekki (promulgating the death penalty for apostates and stoning for adulterers) are “authentic” Muslims and those of us defending the rights of ex-Muslims and Muslims to question, criticise and leave Islam are the “antagonisers”. This can be very clearly seen in the article in question. The student liaising with me who is an ex-Muslim who does not want to be known for fear of his safety is portrayed as the extremist and trouble-maker as am I.

This is one of the main reasons that universities have become breeding and recruiting grounds for jihadis who have free reign whilst opponents like myself struggle to gain access and be heard. Universities like TCD have bought into the Islamist narrative that this movement represents “Muslims” and therefore it is antagonistic to “Muslim students” if one should challenge it. But what about all the “Muslim” dissenters? Conflating Muslim with Islamist does a disservice to them, denies any opposition exists and implies that the “authentic” Muslim is a fascist.

TCD should stop hiding behind its students, come clean and facilitate my talk there without restrictions and as soon as possible.

I insist on speaking at TCD.

I refuse to be silenced.

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