Photo: Anders Henrikson

“No excuses”: SU Chaos over Maryam Namazie

Last week, Warwick Students’ Union overturned a decision to ban ex-Muslim activist Maryam Namazie from speaking at Warwick.

Ms Namazie, the Council of Ex-Muslims leader and prominent critic of certain forms of Islam, was invited to speak to the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists society (WASH). However, when the society requested permission to host the speaker, this request was initially denied by the SU.

This situation had led to an uproar in the national press, including tweets from high profile individuals such as Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox. Dr Cox even threatened to boycott Warwick at one point.

It has since come to light that a staff member at Warwick SU who was not authorised to make a final decision, put the ban against Maryam Namazie.

Namazie was initially banned by someone not authorised to make the decision Photo: Peter

SU President Isaac Leigh was unaware of the situation until receiving “hateful messages” on social media after the information was released publicly on Friday 25 September.

The SU currently has a two-part process for approving external speakers. First a member of SU staff will research the speaker, and if the research provides some cause for concern then the application is handed to the chief executive or director of membership services to review the speaker.

However, in this case, the first member of staff carried out both parts of this process and did not pass the application on to a senior member of staff.

The SU would not provide the name of this staff member, citing the student-staff protocol, which prevents this type of data from being released.

Isaac reassured students: “We are investigating what happened and will be dealing with it internally.”

However, following the initial “error”, WASH appealed the decision to ban Namazie in early September. After over two weeks, the SU had not responded to the society.

Societies officer George Creasy had allegedly missed the email with the appeal because of “holiday and a very high volume of emails”.

Isaac added: “These things do happen and, while there is no excuse, it was an honest oversight.”

He told the Boar it wasn’t until that point that the people who should have known about the situation actually became aware of what was going on.

Isaac stated that the SU moved as quickly as possible: “We quickly and unequivocally decided the event should go ahead.”

The SU has since overturned the ban, admitted there were “no excuses and apologised for their “significant error” and promised to issue an “unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie.”

Comments (5)

  • Brian Cox never said he would boycott, nor did he imply / threaten it. He explicitly stated that he wouldn’t be boycotting.

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