Thursday 13 December 2018

Trinity College hammers yet another nail into the coffin of free speech

Human rights activist Maryam Namazie
Human rights activist Maryam Namazie
Trinity College Dublin
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

A few years ago, I was booked to debate the now infamous terrorist organiser, Anjem Choudary (I've written about the incident in the past, so stop me if you've heard this one before).

The debate itself made for a depressing yet curiously satisfying evening. The satisfying part came when one of his burly bodyguards thought I was blowing kisses at him from across the table and tried to attack me.

But the way this open advocate of the destruction of the West was treated with such kid gloves by the student organisers was remarkably depressing - all the food had to be halal and no wine was to be served with dinner despite the fact that Muslim guests were in the minority at the table.

I put the whole incident down to one of those curious examples of naivety and arrogance that sometimes occurs when you deal with students, particularly those who go to Trinity. The organisers argued that Choudary was a 'guest' of the society and they were obliged to make him feel welcome, even if that meant inconveniencing the other, non-Islamic guests - a perfect microcosm of how the West accedes to Muslim demands, all in the name of being a good host.

But the cancellation of yesterday's planned lecture on 'Apostasy and the rise of Islamism' by Iranian human rights activist Maryam Namazie is something that should worry us all.

It should be pointed out that it was Namazie herself who decided not to go ahead with the event. But she only decided to cancel after being asked to accept undue and untypical restrictions on how the event would take place, such as insisting on the presence of a moderator to 'provide balance'.

She refused to give in, saying: "...I will not be submitting to any conditions, particularly since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers."

In a series of postings on her blog, Namazie points out that there was talk of 'security concerns' and a fear of being seen as "one-sided and...antagonising Muslim students".

Why are we so intent on crumbling in the face of Islamist grumbling? There was a telling insight into the mentality of the organisers, the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA) who expressed concerns about their ability to host the event: "In a safe environment where individuals are free to express themselves without fear of being threatened after the discussion."

Just who did they think would cause a disturbance after the event? Namazie's fellow apostates who face an automatic death sentence in 11 countries around the world for seeing sense and leaving their faith?

Or maybe they were worried about how some of Trinity's Muslim students might have reacted? After all, the Trinity Muslim Student Association recently hosted a radical cleric called Sheikh Kamal El Mekki, who was there to explain why apostasy and infidelity are sufficient reason to kill people.

There was no protest against him speaking and nor should there have been.

After all, the whole point of free speech is that even people who hold savagely medieval views should be allowed to talk, if only to then demolish their arguments.

So again, I ask - who was going to object to Ms Namazie? Well, we can't be seen to 'antagonise' Muslim students, can we?

This would be a surprise if it wasn't happening on a regular basis throughout universities across America and Britain as well.

American colleges have withdrawn invitations to one of the bravest women alive, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, because hardline Muslims object to her opposition to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and they accuse this Somali-born former Muslim of being 'Islamophobic'.

Similarly, any Israeli, or even pro-Israeli, speaker who dares to speak in an Irish college faces a barrage of abuse and physical intimidation as was seen in NUI Galway a few months ago, while Muslim fascists are given a warm welcome - something I saw to my own astonishment when I took part in a debate there not so long ago.

I'm going to take a wild guess and presume the organisers of the cancelled talk would have been happy to wear their 'Je Suis Charlie' badge with pride. But when push comes to shove, Western intellectuals, even students, are hamstrung by their own venality and cowardice.

This is why we're losing the war against Islamism.

As Namazie herself points out: "I call them Islamist, not Muslim, because they are a political movement organising on university campuses."

So we continue to willingly give up our hard-earned values of European enlightenment and freedom of expression in return for...well, in return for what? The smirking approval of losers and fanatics like El Mekki and Choudary?

There is no doubt that we're in a fight against Islamism and we're losing. The tragedy is that we're not losing because of the strength of their convictions, but because of the weakness of ours.

Irish Independent

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