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Saturday 2 July 2016

Activist pulls out of Trinity College talk due to 'restrictions' aimed at not 'antagonising' Muslims

David Kearns

Published 23/03/2015 | 12:54

Maryam Namazie, who regularly receives death threats over speaking out against Islamists
Maryam Namazie, who regularly receives death threats over speaking out against Islamists

A human rights activist whose speech at Trinity college was cancelled because she refused to agree with conditions not usually imposed on speakers has vowed to speak at the university.

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Iranian-born Maryam Namazie was due to give a talk to the Society for International Affairs on Monday on ‘Apostasy and the rise of Islam’ but decided to withdraw from the event after college security imposed “certain conditions”.

“I’ve just been informed… that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is ‘one-sided’ and would be ‘antagonising’ to Muslim students,” she wrote on her blog.

Ms Namazie, who is from a Muslim background but stopped practising the religion several years ago, said she would not do the talk "since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers.”

“I was told that two conditions were required for the event to go ahead; one, that it only be open to students of the college, and two, that there would be a moderator to chair the talk”.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Ms Namazie said she decided against speaking because “such conditions had not been placed on other speakers.”

Last month preacher Sheikh Kamal El Mekki was invited to Trinity College in an event co-hosted by the TCD Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the Irish branch of the AlMaghrib Institute.

His visit to the university was controversial because, in the past, the scholar has explained why apostates should get the death penalty and why the punishment of stoning exists for adultery.

“It is unsettling because these people are given free access to a campus, while those who oppose violence and speak out against the violation of rights of non-Muslims and Muslims alike have restrictions placed on them,” said Ms Namazie, who was invited to speak in part because of Mr El Mekki's lecture.

“No conditions were placed on his talk, nor was there threats to cancel his event over concerns that his position on death for apostates would ‘antagonise’ ex-Muslim and Muslim students who do not support apostasy laws.”

“If you criticise the Islamist movement, which is a far right political movement, you are seen as attacking ordinary Muslims - and this is not the case. Muslims are not a homogenous group. If you criticise the English Defence League, you’re not attacking the English.”

“It is no surprise why we see so many young people turn to ISIS when no discussion is allowed to take place without concerns that Islamists might be offended.”

Ms Namazie said she only learned of the “new conditions” Friday evening, less than three days before she was due to flight to Ireland.

“I had my ticket booked and everything when I was contacted by SoFIA’s chair. I had been told that the event would be open to the public as this was one of my conditions for doing the talk, and it is how it was advertised before it was removed from their Facebook page.”

Adding: “It might seem like a silly issue but I’ve seen this happened before when I am invited to speak. These conditions are imposed to conflate the notice that Muslims and Islamists and one and the same.”

“I’m standing my ground on this because I refuse to speak under conditions not imposed on other speakers. I want to come to Trinity and I am working now with other societies to do so.”

A Trinity College spokesperson said that the university would not comment on an "event organised by a student society", adding that the SoFIA would be issuing a statement shortly over “Ms Namazie’s claims”.

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