Goldsmiths students’ union to investigate Maryam Namazie lecture as row brews
Update 21:04 04/12 – Maryam Namazie has tweeted to say that she will not be removing the video of this lecture at the request of the students’ union. The LGBTQ+ society at Goldsmiths has also given its support to the Islamic Society in this dispute.
Goldsmiths’ students’ union has announced the lecture featuring Maryam Namazie is “under investigation” following reports of intimidation and at least one alleged death threat at the event.
The students’ union has also asked that a video of the two-hour lecture, which has been uploaded to YouTube by user Nano GoleSorkh, be removed.
The union confirmed in a short statement: “This matter is currently under investigation and we are not in a position to comment further.
“Goldsmiths SU are aware of a video that has been posted online without consent of the attending students, we have contacted the speaker and requested that this video is removed.”
Maryam Namazie has since tweeted to confirm she will not be removing the video because “it’s in the public interest.”
Meanwhile, Goldsmiths’ Feminist society entered the debate this week by pledging its full support to the Islamic society, and condemned the Atheist society for “[creating] a climate of hatred.”
A Tumblr post drafted by the society read: “Goldsmiths Feminist Society stands in solidarity with Goldsmiths Islamic Society. We support them in condemning the actions of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and agree that hosting known Islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred.
“We showed our support on our Facebook page by sharing Isoc’s post with a message of solidarity. Our Facebook page is designed as a space for us to communicate with our members, and their safety is our first priority, under the policies set out by our Student Union.”
The LGBTQ+ society has also given its support to the Islamic society.
The human rights activist and broadcaster Maryam Namazie was invited to speak on ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’ this Monday (30 November) on behalf of Goldsmiths’ Atheist, Secularist and Humanist (ASH) society.
During the lecture, there were reports of intimidation from members of the audience, with an allegation that on at least one occasion, a death threat was made.
Lecturer Reza Moradi, to whom the alleged threat was directed, elaborated on his accusation when contacted by London Student. He said: “I told an intimidating disrupter to “shut up” as he was pointing at me, speaking to his colleague during Maryam Namazie’s Lecture, after they were told off by the security guard.
“His response to “shut up” was a death threat. I guess that’s what he was talking about with his friend at the time.”
Since the event, both the Atheist society and the university’s Islamic Society have accused one another’s members of intimidation during the lecture.
The Atheist society, however, announced it would take steps to “[collect] evidence about the event so that we can provide this information to the students union” and lodge an official complaint.
In a statement published on Thursday, ASH said: “We … will be following the formal channels of complaint and presenting this video posted by others to the students union, along with testimonies from those involved, that we have now collected. We will be meeting with the students union to discuss what is the best course of action to address these issues.
“We will say however that we believe this video is thoroughly vindicating of the claims that the ASHSoc have made. Particularly about an atmosphere of intimidation created by some, but most certainly not all, of the Isoc attendees.”
Isoc condemned ASH following the event for inviting “a notorious Islamophobe to speak at the event, despite our polite request for them to reconsider.”
A statement read: “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 statement continued: “Hateful statements that encourage Islamophobia by Namazie and the ASH can lead to very serious & violent consequences towards the Muslim students at the university.
“A university institution needs to prioritise the safety of its students and take action to ensure students are not harassed/intimidated online or on campus.”
Asked about gaining FemSoc’s support, Isoc exclusively told London Student: “We greatly appreciate the support we have received on campus from other societies.” However, the society did not wish to comment on the ongoing investigation or the video footage that has been uploaded.
Goldsmiths’ Atheist society was not able to give comment at the time of writing.
By Keumars Afifi-Sabet and Jonis Liban.
Featured image via Nano GoleSorkh/YouTube