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When Maryam Namazie, a world renowned Iranian human rights activist cancelled her proposed lecture on “Apostasy and the rise of Islamism”, to the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA) in Trinity College Dublin, on Monday, March 23, she explained that Trinity security officials decided her address was “one sided” and antagonistic to “Muslim students”.
She was told it could only proceed if a moderator oversaw the lecture, this is not the normal format so Namazie refused fearing she would effectively be censored.
In marked contrast Trinity’s Muslim Student Association hosted Kamel El Mekki “who advocates the death penalty for apostasy” last month without any so-called oversight.
SoFIA’s capitulation to Islamist pressure is a denigration of Namazie’s determination to challenge radical Islam, its attempt to justify this by arguing it was necessary to ensure individuals could express opinions “without fear of being threatened after the discussion”, is a supine response which should concern anyone who believes in objective debate.
Free speech is a core tenet of academic discourse; not only has SoFIA undermined the essence of scholarly debate, it has set a precedent that will discourage moderate Muslims from challenging Islamists.
It should be a stark warning to an academia retreating behind a wall of political correctness, and it should also remind the university’s of George Orwell’s classic quote, “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.
Dr Kevin McCarthy
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