UPDATE: I will be speaking at Trinity College Dublin on 20 October 2015, thanks to invitation of Phil Soc.

And so the whitewash begins with an “article” (or should we say editorial) by University Times on the cancellation of my talk at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism”, which was meant to be given today at an event organised by the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA). Though the SoFIA chair asserts that I withdrew from the event, it is in fact the Society, which cancelled the event after my request that it go ahead as initially planned without any of the last-minute restrictions imposed, namely that all attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk and that a moderator be added for “balance”.

The “article” is full of irrelevances and misinformation in order to muddy the waters so that the main issue at hand is forgotten as is usual in such cases. The main issue is that my right to speak was restricted by TCD whilst Islamist speakers like Kamal El Mekki who advocate the death penalty for apostates face no such restrictions. But more on this later.

Let me first briefly address the main points of misinformation raised in the article:

1. The article asserts that “miscommunication” around the event being public was all “hinged” on one “individual student’s involvement” who “never asked [SoFIA] [its] terms”.

It now seems that the student liaison facilitating my talk is the reason for this entire scandal! Acting on his own accord, and without coordinating with SoFIA, he alone is responsible for my misguided impression that the event was to be public. I am assured that SoFIA only holds members-only events! Even if there was a public Facebook page it was because of this “individual student”. The Society I am told cannot be held responsible for the “assumption as to conditions which it itself did not offer”.

This, however, is untrue. The screenshot below shows Aoife McLoughlin-Ngo, the SoFIA Chair, stating: “there are 2 events pages – the page I’m linking is open to people outside of SoFIA members page”. So much for the event “hinging” on an “individual student”! The fall guy scenario that was put into motion after the scandal became public knowledge is a bogus one. This now explains why the Facebook page for the event was so quickly deleted.


The second point of misinformation is that Trinity College Dublin “had no involvement” in discussions with me about my scheduled appearance. This is a half-truth. Yes, they were not involved in discussions with ME but they were heavily involved in discussions around my talk before and after the scandal was made public. Noel McCann, the TCD Facilities Officer, told the student liaison that he was meeting with the “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event will be “allowed” to go ahead as planned. Even now, the delay in the publication of SoFIA’s statement on the cancellation of my talk is because it had to be approved by the Central Societies Committee and Communications Office.

The third point of misinformation is that the issues raised by the Facilities Officer were around matters of “student security”.  I think it is clear that the last-minute requirement that an academic (Dr Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity) “chair” my event has very little to do with security.

Rather, it had to do with the concern that I would cause “offence”.

The student liaising my visit was told by Noel McCann that my talk would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students”. He asked how “could she come and say whatever she wants without a moderator” and “with half the world knowing about it”. He also threatened to cancel it and said that he was meeting with “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event would be “allowed” to go ahead. But according to the college:”these discussions [are] considered to be private and in response to the student’s own concerns”!

The crux of the matter, therefore, is “private” and the non-issues and misinformation have become the main points of discussion for the Society and TCD.

This is nothing new. Islamism, a far-Right political movement, is often seen to be one and the same with the falsely homogenised “Muslim community”, thereby implying that hate preachers like Mekki (promulgating the death penalty for apostates and stoning for adulterers) are “authentic” Muslims and those of us defending the rights of ex-Muslims and Muslims to question, criticise and leave Islam are the “antagonisers”. This can be very clearly seen in the article in question. The student liaising with me who is an ex-Muslim who does not want to be known for fear of his safety is portrayed as the extremist and trouble-maker as am I.

This is one of the main reasons that universities have become breeding and recruiting grounds for jihadis who have free reign whilst opponents like myself struggle to gain access and be heard. Universities like TCD have bought into the Islamist narrative that this movement represents “Muslims” and therefore it is antagonistic to “Muslim students” if one should challenge it. But what about all the “Muslim” dissenters? Conflating Muslim with Islamist does a disservice to them, denies any opposition exists and implies that the “authentic” Muslim is a fascist.

TCD should stop hiding behind its students, come clean and facilitate my talk there without restrictions and as soon as possible.

I insist on speaking at TCD.

I refuse to be silenced.



  1. Latest addition to ongoing saga about free expression and the exchange of ideas.

    Hilary Aked is a freelance writer and researcher, qualified journalist and doctoral candidate at the University of Bath. She had worked in the Occupied Territories and is researching the pro-Israel lobby in the UK.

    This article on Southampton University and free speech.
    If our universities can’t stand up to the Israel lobby and uphold free speech, how will the international community ever stand up to the state of Israel and uphold international law?

  2. High Court sides with Southampton University ban


    Tuesday, 14 April 2015
    Conference postponement
    14th April 2015

    Dear Friends,

    A hearing was held in the High Court today on our application for an injunction to compel Southampton University to host our conference. Unfortunately, the court sided with the university, despite the strengths of our case. We will continue pursuing justice for both Palestine and for freedom of speech. We are now contemplating the best way of pursuing an appeal against this decision.

    More at link above


    High Court backs university’s decision to ‘postpone’ Israel conference
    Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:10
    Organisers of a conference on Israel and international law have failed in their bid to overturn a decision by the University of Southampton to cancel the event, previously scheduled for this weekend.

    A High Court judge in London today rejected the organisers’ application for a judicial review, with the university claiming that the conference had in fact merely been “postponed.”

    Link above

  3. Another example of the same (lack of) principle, although in a different context. See http://rt.com/uk/245593-southampton-israel-conference-cancelled/ Several other reports around the web. The University of Southamption also cited ‘health and safety’ concerns, although the police had said they would have no problem ensuring public safety and that of all participants.

    Academic freedom and free speech are being threatened from all sides. If a university can’t organise an academic conference because of highly improper political pressure, what hope is there for other fora? This sort of thing has to stop.

  4. Maryam – Should you wish to protect the student who invited you, the screenshot in this piece needs to be blurred. Ms. Ngo shared the event and the student’s name appears in light grey in the screenshot.

  5. Worth reading again in the light of these events (or reading for the first time) Polly Toynbee, 16 January 2015 in the Guardian

    ‘… The pope came as near as dammit to suggesting that Charlie Hebdo had it coming … [He] pointed to his aide as he said “If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” …

    ‘No, it’s not normal to punch someone who insults you; the pope’s Christ certainly didn’t think so. Verbal provocation is never an excuse for violence – that’s the wife-beater’s defence … Whenever the faiths come together to protect their rights jointly, you should smell a rat. They don’t just believe very different things; their professions contradict one another. In real life, it’s Catholic against Protestant, Hindu against Muslim, except in the soup blender of Thought for the Day, where only gentle and similar voices preaching peace and understanding get a voice. Absent is the red-hot ferocity that fuels the Islamists of Isis as they slaughter Christians, or the proselytising Nichiren Bhuddists, or the extremists from Northern Ireland’s religious fringes. Religion is gentle only when it’s powerless, without secular influence …’

    ‘… The right to make fun of popes, imams and prophets is fading fast as self-censorship for commercial, as much as self-preserving, instincts stops the presses.

    ‘The flurry of scandal over Oxford University Press stopping its children’s writers from referring to pigs or pork for fear of risking Middle East sales – or the Harper Collins atlases for export that mysteriously omit Israel for the same reason – show how easily freedom slips away unless scurrilous outriders like Charlie Hebdo can keep mocking church and mosque.’


  6. The problem Ireland has is a radical anti-Zionism engrained from establishment down to students. It is not wanted to understand that the Palestinian problem has increasingly become a proxy for the Islamic totalitarian problem. That would be rocking the boat much too much.

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