London Student

‘Death threats and intimidation’ at controversial Goldsmiths lecture with speaker Maryam Namazie

Update 12:41 03/12 – Footage from Monday evening’s event has been uploaded to YouTube by user Nano GoleSorkh


Students at Goldsmiths “disrupted” a controversial talk with human rights activist and broadcaster Maryam Namazie yesterday evening, with some audience members accused of issuing death threats.

Organised by Goldsmiths’ Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, Namazie was speaking on the topic of ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’.

Namazie wrote after the event: “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.

“I continued speaking as loudly as I could. They repeatedly walked back and forth in front of me. In the midst of my talk, one of the Isoc Islamists switched off my PowerPoint and left. The University security had to intervene and remain in the room as I continued my talk.

“Eventually the thug who had switched off my PowerPoint returned and continued his harassments. At this point, I stood my ground, screamed loudly and continued insisting that he be removed even when the security said he should stay because he was a student.”

A student, during yesterday’s lecture, moved to turn off the main screen when Namazie showed a cartoon from the series Jesus and Mo.

Allegations were also made in last night’s event that certain members of the audience had issued direct death threats. One speaker, lecturer and activist Reza Moradi, said that the person threatening him “looked right into my eyes and with his finger, shaping hand like a handgun, touched his forehead.”

He said: “I asked the security guard if he saw the death threat and he confirmed it”, adding that he has had “many issues with Islamists and lots of threats but this one was different.”

Moradi, having rewatched footage from the event, later added: “I’d like to correct a detail in my previous statement. I asked him to shut up and he then threatened me.”

Maryam Namazie had previously been invited by the Warwick Atheist, secularist and humanist society (WASH) in September but was told by organisers she was “highly inflammatory and could incite hatred” in Muslim students. Warwick’s students’ union overturned its decision to ban her, however, following a successful campaign.

Prior to yesterday’s event, Goldsmiths’ Islamic Society (Isoc) released a statement saying that it “[expressed] deep concern regarding Goldsmiths Atheist, secularist and humanist society with renounced Islamophobe Maryam Namazi”.

The statement continued to read she “is known to hold very controversial views”, adding “we feel such an individual will violate our safe space”.

When London Student requested a response from the organisers of the event, the Goldsmiths’ ASH society, its president said the society had sent an email to the Islamic society’s president “because I wanted them to be included in Maryam’s talk and the ensuing discussion,” but that the group “had responded to my email with a thinly veiled threat asking me to call off the event on the grounds of violating the safe space policy”.

He also clarified that despite the students’ union approving the speaker “some of the predominantly male members of the Isoc then showed up and made a strong effort to disrupt Maryam’s speech”.

He accused some in the Goldsmiths Islamic Society of making a “great effort to create an atmosphere of intimidation and belligerence at the event, rendering the talk feeling unsafe for non-Isoc attendees who wished to have a ‘safe space’ to discuss dissenting ideas about religion.”

An email seen by London Student, sent by the president of Isoc to the president of the ASH society read: “As an Islamic society, 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.

“Just a few examples of her Islamophobic statements, she labelled the niqab- a religious symbol for Muslim women, “a flag for far-right Islamism”. Also, she went onto tweet, they are ”body bags” for women. That is just 2 examples of how mindless she is, and presents her lack of understanding and knowledge about Islam.

“We feel having her present, will be a violation to our safe space, a policy which Goldsmiths SU adheres to strictly, and my society feels that all she will do is incite hatred and bigotry, at a very sensitive time for Muslims in the light of a huge rise in Islamophobic attacks.

“For this reason, we advise you to reconsider your event tomorrow. We will otherwise, take this to the Students Union, and present our case there. I however, out of courtesy, felt it would be better to speak to you first.”

Maryam Namazi, when asked if she could give her response to the talk, said: “Goldsmiths Isoc never made any formal complaint to the students’ union” arguing last night’s incidents were an “attempt at intimidating Atheist Secularist and Humanist organisers”.

She also told London Student: This very group which absurdly speaks of “safe spaces” has in the past invited Hamza Tzortzis of IERA which says beheading of apostates is painless and Moazem Begg of Cage Prisoners that advocates “defensive jihad”.

Namazie added that despite the “many attempts by the ISOC “brothers” the meeting ended successfully and raised critical issues, including that criticism of Islam and Islamism are not bigotry against Muslims who are often the first victims of Islamism.”

Featured image via @RezaMoradi/Twitter

  • This article was amended on 1 December to clarify at student did not turn of Nawazie’s powerpoint presentation after she showed a cartoon from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, but after she showed a cartoon from Jesus and Mo.
  • The headline was also changed to describe the lecture itself as ‘controversial’ rather than the speaker.
  • The details of an alleged death threat, as referenced in the headline, were mistakenly removed during an edit, but restored on 2 December.
  • A passage was updated to describe Reza Moradi as a lecturer and activist. He was previously without a description.
  • A further detail was added to the alleged death threat, after Moradi who spoke with London Student, rewatched footage from the event. 

Leave a comment

Jonis Liban

33 comments

  • “Those pathetic “attention whores” – suffragettes – how dare they demand right to vote for women – Disgusting! ”
    because all muslim women around the world do not have a right to vote ?
    you can generalize 1.6 billion humans based on a country or two?
    hypocrisy at it best….you seem to be an educated women with great knowledge and potential.
    “Try not be stupid. I hate Islam but Islam is a lived experience”
    your hate movement; bashing islam, wouldn’t make you a better person nor would it be fruitful.
    since you’re an “ex-muslim” why wouldn’t you just leave in peace, let us live our lives the way we see fit?
    what do you expect from muslims who can’t accept criticism other that death threats ? boxes of chocolate or flowers ?
    you can’t generalize nor compare muslims countries as they are diverse, chopping off thieves had isn’t implemented in most muslim countries, sharia law isn’t followed by the book within muslim countries (most of them), islam is evolving. do you think we do not have enough of problems to solve ? why are you alienating muslims?

  • So the when ISOC warned that the lecture would cause a reaction from forces of hate and anti-safe space ,they were actually talking about themselves.
    Why are they really so frightened of different points of view?
    I’m not sure if a hijab is a ‘right wing’ flag.but the behaviour demonstrated last night by some ISOC supporters certainly is.
    Quite fascistic to try to stop people airing their views.

    Why on earth would you even go to University if education is your enemy?

  • Noname- there is no generalisation
    Islam alienates all outsiders
    Your angry rant is typical and not unheard with no logic
    Islam and evolve in same sentence makes me smile, ask for a safe space you don’t have to listen to criticism. Debate of all topics is a beautiful human construct when that ends it will be a result of lack of freedom. Dawah is permissable in UK as with many religious ideologies and promotion, so humanism is an equal to this. Death threats should not be tolerated for any reason, it is not a hate movement it is a freedom idea, as Dawah will help you get to heaven humanism will give you reason. What if the next issue is people being offended when they find out all Abrahamic denominations believe that non believers are going to hell. How dare you believe that about me! I refuse to let you think that I’m going to burn for eternity, where is my safe place!
    Get over it debate strives for reason

  • Safe spaces are supporters of Muslim extremism. That is until the Muslims take over completely, then you will see your safe spaces disappear.

  • Thank you for this article. I spoke at a meeting at Goldsmith’s last week, also organised by the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. I congratulate Goldsmith’s Student Union for supporting the important work of the AHS, which is fighting an important battle to keep open spaces for dissent and discussion. We really should be talking about how to oppose ISIS and other monstrous fundamentalist organisations such as the Hindutva movement in India ( and in this country). Instead, we have to fight for the space to speak. AHS did very well to contact the Islamic Society and engage with them. They exposed their views – showing that the ‘safe space’ policy is used to play victim while issuing veiled and open threats. It is very good to know that the meeting went ahead in spite of these threats. The only way to contain the fundamentalist menace is to call their bluff. Keep up the good work Goldsmiths.

  • The jig is fast coming to an end for Islamists and their apologist Lefty fellow travellers whom they are now so desperate to use for cover. Using the term “Safe Space” is a massive own goal….Everybody knows this is a euphemism, and those who use it have literally run out of ideas. This argument is about what’s true and these Fascists who want to impose their theocratic nonsense don’t have the benefit of a downtrodden ignorant populace they can oppress as they do in other parts of the world.

    Maryam Namazie is a hero of mine and mark my words….The women from these strictly conservative Islamist hell holes are the ones who will ultimately lead to the demise of this medieval theocratic ideology – they are the keyholders to a brighter future in the middle East and Goodness knows how overdue that is.

    As for the left wing of British politics….I’m embarrassed for those who still think they hold some kind of moral highground. Shame on you all for surrendering it to a bunch of fascists and leaving decent people with nobody to stand with them.

  • @Nicholas Chalfont re: “Lefty fellow travellers of Islamism”, your “embarrassment” at the left; and the “heroism” of Namazie…

    Namazie’s wikipedia article lists her occupation as: “Central Committee member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran”

    May need to update your ideas about what the left is.

  • I have read about this meeting elsewhere, and though the hostility, disruption, and intimidation are repellent enough, this is the first time I’ve read about “death threats”, and then only in your headline, and there is no actual mention of them in the story. Did they happen?

  • Perhaps it’s time to establish muslim only universities, because it’s now obvious that they are determined to disrupt the education of Jews, Christians and atheists, whenever they can. No subject, or topic, should be off-limits at university and no speaker, of whatever faith, or none, should be disrupted or prevented from speaking. It is extremely childish and disrespectful not to listen to what the speaker has to say. If a student disagrees, then the Q&A session is the time to be vocal.

  • @James Guess it depends what you count as a death threat. You don’t have to explicitly tell someone that you are going to kill them for it to be a death threat. I think they are talking about the gestured handgun to the head.

  • Nice, students upset that a controversial speaker will “violate our safe space policy” go on to issue death threats.

  • […] Een lezing afgelopen maandag van de islam-kritische mensenrechtenactiviste Maryam Namazie bij de Londense Goldsmith Universiteit is ruw verstoord door studenten van de Islamic Society (Isoc), een islamitische studentenorganisatie. De islamitische studenten “maakten herrie, bonkten op de deur, schreeuwden, wierpen zich op de grond en creëerden een sfeer van initmidatie”, aldus Namazie zelf. […]

  • […] An atheist charity has issued a series of scathing tweets directed at "insecure" students who create "safe spaces" at university and 'no platform' speakers who offend them.The British Humanist Association (BHA) was addressing an incident which took place at Goldsmiths University in London, where the feminist and Islamic societies reportedly condemned an atheist speaker as an "Islamophobe".Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-born secularist who campaigns against Islamic extremism was speaking at a lecture on "Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS", when she and other speakers were "subjected to death threats". […]

  • Can I simply say what a relief to uncover a person that actually understands what they’re discussing on the net. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular given that you surely possess the gift.|

  • I always thought that universities were meant to be bastions of free speech and rational argument and thought! The problem today is that many so-called academics are left-wing and feel obliged to pander to the prejudices of Moslem extremists. Everything is now justified in the name of respecting the human rights of these people, which they themselves would not respect if they came to power. Universities have dumbed down their entry requirements and are now prepared to accept applicants whom they would not have considered even ten years ago. Even the Labour Party is now prepared to accept segregated audiences in the interests of acquiring a few more votes.