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Should the students’ union ban extremist speakers?

By River Reporter Oct 26, 2013


KUSU’s decision not to ban extremist speaker Dr Khalid Fikry from giving talks at the university raises the good question about who we let into our institution.   

By allowing speakers like Dr Fikry, whose speeches incite racial hatred and support of convicted terrorists, are we in danger of our students being radicalised?

Earlier this month, the National Union of Students president, Toni Pearce, stated in an open letter that the NUS took a robust position in regard to extremist speakers at UK universities and had a long-established ‘no platform’ policy.

Sending the wrong message

However, allowing extremist speakers into our institution doesn’t mean we give their view legitimacy. Only by publicly debating these partisan views do I believe we can truly expose their repugnant tendencies. 

Banning these people from universities sends out the wrong message in fighting radical speech, therefore we should engage with them and confront them.

Freedom of speech is the right in which everyone in the UK has to express his or her opinions and ideas. Therefore extremist speakers, however controversial and untraditional their views may be, are not breaking any laws as long as they aren’t encouraging violent behaviour.

Distasteful, fascist views

Earlier this year the BBC were criticised for being docile during an interview with EDL leader Tommy Robinson, which many argued gave him a platform to deliver his  fascist views, distasteful to many. But how can we seriously debate these views and show them for what they are if we shun them out of all public life domains?

If we are seriously worried about such orators spreading hate and influence then the best thing we can do is publicly shame and dismantle their ideas. It’s up to the students to challenge the opinions and ideas of Dr Fikry or any other speaker.

If we ban them from the University it only means they will speak elsewhere. Surely this ultimately leads to more covert meetings, under the radar of the general population, where nobody can dispute their speech and challenge their views. 

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