Following what I reported from the BHA the other day, the Coventry Telegraph reports the following good and sensible news. Respect to Warwick SU for fully accepting it as a cock-up, apologising and reviewing their processes:
Maryam Namazie had been banned by the university’s students’ union over fears she may offend Muslim students
A decision to ban a speaker from Warwick University, citing fears she may offend Muslim students, has been reversed.
The Telegraph revealed on Friday that ex-Muslim and human rights activist Maryam Namazie had been blocked from speaking at an event organised by Warwick Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (WASH).
The Iranian-born secularist is well known for her talks which highlight aspects of Islam she does not agree with.
The students’ union indicating the decision had been made was made “in deference to the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their University campus.”
But, after 48 hours of intense public pressure, the union has backed down.
A petition had been set up calling for the decision to be overturned and high-profile academics such as Prof Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre and Salman Rushdie had hit out at the initial ruling.
A statement published on the Warwick University Student’s Union website on Sunday evening offered an “unequivocal apology” to Ms Namazie.
It read: “In the last few days we have all seen much debate, and considerable concern, expressed about an application to Warwick Students’ Union made by the Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, that an SU society host the campaigner and blogger Maryam Namazie as an external speaker.
“Warwick SU has a process for assessing any potential risks or legal issues associated with any external speaker, and it is now very clear to us that in this case that process has not been followed. Speaker invitations that may involve such issues are routinely considered by the SU President, who will also take advice from senior SU staff.
“This did not happen on this occasion. Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been. This is a significant error for which there can be no excuse.
“There is a great deal that we now must put right, and these are the first steps that we are putting into place:
1) The proper process has now been followed, as it should have been in the first place. The application by the Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society for Warwick Students’ Union to host Maryam Namazie as an external speaker has now been considered and approved.
2) The SU is now seeking to meet promptly with the leadership of the Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to make the necessary arrangements for the event to take place in the format they have requested.
3) Warwick SU will issue an unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie for this egregious and highly regrettable error.
4) Our process as to how we assess requests to host external speakers is very clear. However, it is also equally clear that how this process is communicated and understood by everyone in the SU who needs to be aware of it has failed, and failed badly in this case. We need to act immediately to examine how that happened, and to it put it right, and we will.
“We want to assure everyone of Warwick Students’ Union’s continued commitment to free speech.
“We also want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who has expressed concern, or disappointment, or who has been hurt by this significant error and, as we said above, we will be issuing a full and unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie.”