LONDON, England – Muslim protesters at a London university caused a scene during a recent talk by human rights activist and former Muslim Maryam Namazie, and briefly shut down her presentation.
Namazie was delivering a speech on blasphemy and apostasy at Goldsmiths University Monday evening when members of the school’s Islamic Society disrupted the event by heckling, shouting, and flopping themselves on the floor, according to the Evening Standard.
The recorded event was put on by the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society at Goldsmiths University, which received an ominous warning from the Islamic Society the day prior. The president of the Islamic Society wrote the night before “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,” the note read, according to the National Secular Society. “We advise you to reconsider your event tomorrow.”
The Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society disregarded the threat, and the Islamic Society apparently followed through.
“After my talk began, ISOC ‘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 told the Secular Society.
A video of the lecture shows one of the Muslim students get out of his seat and switch off the projector when a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad came up, the Evening Standard reports.
“They shut my projector, shouted over me, threw themselves on the floor,” Namazie told the Telegraph. “Security had to come to allow me to carry speaking and the same person who shut my projector came back into the room again I shouted ‘you have to get out’ and security finally escorted him out.”
Namazie is an Iranian-born activist who speaks out against Sharia and other religious laws, and is a member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Namazie, a communist, is also known for speaking out against discrimination women endure in the Muslim culture.
The Goldsmiths Islamic Society accused Namazie of “harassment” in a Facebook post about her visit, the Evening Standard reports.
“The university should be a safe space for all our students. Islamophobic views like those propagated by Namazie create a climate of hatred and bigotry towards Muslim students,” the post read. “A university should be a safe environment/space for all students including Muslims in this sensitive time.”
Namazie said “The behavior of the ISOC ‘brothers’ was so appalling that a number of Muslim women felt the need to apologise, to which I explained that no apology was needed from those who were not to blame,” according to the Secular Society.
Ironically, the Goldsmiths Feminist Society issued a statement siding with the Islamic students.
“We support them in condemning the actions of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and agree that hosting known islamophobes (sic) at our university creates a climate of hatred,” the Feminists wrote.
A university spokesman 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.”
“Freedom of expression and the right to criticize and leave Islam without fear and intimidation is a basic human right,” Namazie said after the event. “We have a responsibility to fight for these universal values at British universities and also across the globe.”
The National Secular Society’s Stephen Evans also chimed in.
“It’s becoming very clear that the concept of ‘safe spaces’ is being abused to the point where it is becoming a direct threat to freedom of speech,” he said. “Some student may find criticism of their religion offensive, but in an open and free society that doesn’t give them the right to close down such discussion and intimidate those expressing their views.
“We urge Goldsmiths to condemn the intolerance shown towards Maryam Namazie and make clear to its students they do not have the right not to be offended.”