Challenge all bigotry & hate but also defend free speech. 17 March
Protest at the National Union of Students HQ in London to urge revision of its safe space & no-platform policies, which restrict freedom of expression.
Challenge all bigotry and hate but also defend free speech.
NUS activists are planning a counter-protest
Thursday 17 March 5-6pm
Macadam House, 275 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8QB
Nearest tube: Kings Cross MAP: https://goo.gl/lvCimd
Prominent supporters include Salman Rushdie, AC Grayling, Suzanne Moore, Tom Holland, Richard Dawkins, Ophelia Benson, Kenan Malik and Peter Tatchell.
See our statement and full list of signatories: http://goo.gl/ItpHKH
The protest is organised by Right2Debate and the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain Council, with the support of Index on Censorship, Feminism in London, International Humanist & Ethical Union, Peter Tatchell Foundation, National Secular Society, Bread & Roses TV, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, One Law for All, Rationalist International, Center for Inquiry, Atheist Alliance International, Centre for Secular Space and many others.
We have been informed that a counter-demonstration is being planned by NUS campaigners, which is their democratic right.
Protest participant, Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
“Free speech does not mean allowing bigotry to pass unchallenged. It should always be refuted and protested. The most effective way to do this is by defeating bigoted ideas in open debate and thereby winning the public to oppose intolerance. No-platforms, bans and censorship suppress bigotry but fail to expose and counter it. We are urging the NUS to revise – not scrap – its no-platform and safe space policies, to make them consistent with free speech.
“Free speech can only be legitimately restricted when someone makes false, damaging allegations – such as that a person is a rapist or tax fraudster – or when they engage in threats, harassment or the endorsement of violence. As the German communist, Rosa Luxemburg, argued: freedom of speech means nothing if it does not exist for the person who thinks differently.
“Islamist extremists are often free to speak at universities while those of us providing a progressive counter-narrative face repeated attempts to deny or restrict our right to speak. We are falsely accused of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘incitement to hatred’ when we are, in fact, challenging the Islamists’ hatred of apostates, women, LGBTs, Jews, liberal Muslims and others.
“Warwick University Student Union, for example, initially barred the Iranian communist and feminist Maryam Namazie from speaking to the Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society, citing similar false accusations.
“At Goldsmiths University, the Islamic Society tried but failed to intimidate and cancel Maryam’s talk by misusing the concept of safe spaces.
“The National Union of Students’ no-platform and safe space policies are being abused to restrict the free expression of an increasing number of feminists, ex-Muslims, left-wingers and human rights campaigners,” said Mr Tatchell.
What you can do:
I call on @nusuk to revise its safe space & no-platform policies to facilitate, not restrict, free expression & thought
Take part in the thunderclap campaign: https://goo.gl/xV1H6j
Email the NUS: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/contact-us/#NUS
Joint statement by the protest organisers and supporters:
“We are deeply concerned by the increasing attempts by the National Union of Students (NUS) and its affiliated Student Unions to silence dissenters – including feminists, apostates, LGBTI rights campaigners, anti-racists, anti-fascists and anti-Islamists – through its use of No-Platform and Safe Space policies.
“We stand against all prejudice and discrimination. We agree that free speech does not mean giving bigots a free pass. A defence of free speech includes the right and moral imperative to challenge, oppose and protest bigoted views.
“Educational institutions must be a place for the exchange and criticism of all ideas – even those deemed unpalatable by some – providing they don’t incite violence against peoples or communities. Bigoted ideas are most effectively defeated by open debate, backed up by ethics, reason and evidence.
“The student body is not homogeneous; there will be differences of opinion among students. The NUS’s restrictive policies infringe upon the right of students to hear and challenge dissenting and opposing views.
“We, therefore, call on the NUS to revise its No-Platform and Safe Space policies to facilitate freedom of expression and thought, rather than restrict it.”