Islamic Student Society Heckles Human Rights Activist During Blasphemy Lecture

Members of Goldsmiths University’s Islamic Society (ISOC) “heckled and aggressively disrupted” a lecture by Iranian secularist and feminist activist Maryam Namazie on Monday night, The Independent reported.

The disruptions began about 11 minutes into the talk, after Namazie, who was invited by the university’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH), said “Islamism, as a political movement, is a global killing machine.” To support her point, she observed that a number of secular Bangladeshi bloggers had been hacked to death by the fundamentalists, while an Islamist group in Bangladesh had published a hit list against bloggers in other countries. As she made her argument, a student in the front row began laughing, prompting a rebuke from Namazi.

Soon, a second student began talking out loud. Namazie responded by repeatedly telling him to leave. When the student said that Namazie was intimidating him, she replied, “Oh, you’re intimidated? Go to your safe space.” A video showing these incidents is embedded below.

About 35 minutes into the talk, Namazie showed a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon, which featured an image of the Prophet Muhammad. As Namazie spoke, one of the students got up and shut off her projector. He was swiftly escorted out by security.

London Student, a publication covering the city’s academic scene, reported that the ISOC had previously called Namazie “Islamophobic,” citing her reference to niqabs as “body bags” for women. At least one member of the audience said that he received a death threat from one of the ISOC students, according to the report.

The Goldsmiths Feminist Society issued a statement of solidarity with the Islamic society, saying “that hosting known islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred.”

The ISOC at Goldsmiths has been criticized in the past for inviting a number of controversial speakers. The Telegraph reported that the society previously hosted Moazzam Begg, whose organization, Cage, described the ISIS member Jihadi John as a “beautiful, kind man.” The ISOC also organized a talk by Hamza Tzortzis, who once said that non-Muslims who fight against Muslims “should be killed,” and that Muslims “reject the idea of freedom of  speech.”

Namazie told The Telegraph, “They shut my projector, shouted over me, threw themselves on the floor. They created a climate of fear and intimidation. I spoke as loud as I could. Security had to come in 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 added that the idea that universities had to be “safe places” was being used to stifle free inquiry. “Safe places can be a good thing for women who face violence but a university cannot be a safe place. It needs to be an unsafe place where people learn to question ideas that they have taken for granted.”

[Photo: Nano GoleSorkh / YouTube ]