University bans conference under pressure from far right

Submitted by AWL on 29 December, 2014 - 4:28 Author: Gerry Bates

The cancellation by Birkbeck University management of room bookings for a 13 December conference on "Institutional Islamophobia" should be condemned.

Following the bans on the Socialist Workers Party by Goldsmiths Students' Union and Edinburgh University Students' Association, and the attempt to ban the SWP in University of Sussex SU, this is yet another blow to freedom of speech and organisation on campuses.

It is particularly alarming because Birkbeck management acted after threats from far-right racist groups Britain First and Casuals United that they would disrupt the event.

The conference itself seems to have been a reactionary undertaking, sponsored by organisations such as Stop the War but driven by Islamist groups including the "Islamic Human Rights Commission", Shia Islamists posing as a human rights organisation.

Such reactionary ideas should be countered by debate and protest, not by bans, and certainly not (as in this case) by bans imposed under pressure from the racist far right.

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