In what seems to be becoming a regular occurrence, a UK university union has banned a speaker from sharing their experiences with students for dubious reasons, leading to intense backlash on social media.
Last week, University College London's (UCL) student union refused to allow Macer Gifford—a British man who fought against Daesh in Syria alongside Kurdish militias—to give a talk organized by Kavar Kurda, the head of the University Kurdish Society. Asad Khan, the student union’s events and activities officer has been accused of censorship, anti-Kurdish prejudice and even supporting Daesh after allegedly justifying his decision by saying that the union did not want to take sides in the conflict.
Kurda claims that Khan told him “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist," and that he was concerned that Gifford’s talk would encourage others to go and fight.
Twitter erupted in outrage over the decision, with many worried that banning certain speakers is becoming a trend at UK universities. Maryam Namazie, a secular activist and spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, was banned from speaking in September by Warwick’s student union over fear the event would cause offense to some on campus.
University College London, @UCLU, is morally bankrupt Banning Macer Gifford from speaking, who fought with the YPG against Daesh, is obscene— Doloroso (@Pyrrha108) November 6, 2015
Anti-ISIS fighter barred from giving talk at UCL because Union officer says "we want to avoid taking sides". Insane. https://t.co/wwbKSLIot0— Benjamin Ramm (@BenjaminRamm) November 5, 2015
By Kane Hippisley-Gatherum
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