A campaigner against Sharia Law and Muslim extremism claims she was intimidated and heckled by members of the Goldsmith’s Islamic Society after she attempted to deliver a lecture on free speech.
Maryam Namazie, a political activist, campaigner and blogger, was delivering a speech on the topic of ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’ to the Goldsmiths Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society on Monday night when several men from the Islamic Society attempted to stop her from speaking.
“After my talk began, Islamic Society ‘brothers’ started coming into the room, repeatedly banging the door, falling on the floor, heckling me, playing on their phones, shouting out, and creating a climate of intimidation in order to try and prevent me from speaking,” Namazie wrote on her blog immediately after the event.
“They repeatedly walked back and forth in front of me. In the midst of my talk, one of the Islamic Society ‘Islamists’ switched off my PowerPoint and left. The University security had to intervene and remain in the room as I continued my talk.”
But, Namazie said, the “thug” later returned and “continued his harassment”.
Representatives from the Islamic Society had urged ASH on the evening before the event to stop Namazie from speaking. They said: “As an Islamic Society, we feel extremely uncomfortable by the fact that you have invited Maryam Namazie. As you very well probably know, she is renowned for being Islamophobic, and very controversial.”
In an email to ASH, representatives from the Society claimed that having Namazie present would “be a violation to our safe space, a policy which Goldsmiths SU adheres to strictly”. They also claimed that she would “incite hatred and bigotry, at a very sensitive time for Muslims in the light of a huge rise in Islamophobic attacks.”
Iranian-born Namazie has campaigned prominently against stoning, executions, sexual apartheid, and women’s rights violations particularly in Islamic societies and 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.
The Islamic Society issued a statement on their Facebook page after the event saying that the students who protested against Namazie’s talk were subject to “vile harassment” and “unnecessary bullying, abuse and violence by the ASH Society and security staff”.
According to Namazie, a women’s rights campaigner, who had survived being kidnapped by Islamists in Libya, spoke in the Q&A after the event saying: “The attempts at intimidation reminded me of those dreaded days.”
A spokesman for the University said: ”Goldsmiths, University of London supports freedom of speech. The university follows a set of regulations to help ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the university and for visiting speakers.”