London – Free speech is a principle which ensures the free and dignified exchange of ideas, whilst fulfilling the indispensable function of holding executive power to account. Noting the implications of making inciting statements against a minority in an era of widespread, structural anti-Muslim sentiment, CAGE supports the right for the Warwick University Student Union to host an “inflammatory” external speaker, under the principle of free speech without hateful, defamatory or insulting speech
Noting also the absence of the ‘extremism’ discourse in the context of the external speaker, CAGE calls for the universal application of the same free speech parameters and protections to those who have not been censored by PREVENT, to be applied to Muslim speakers whose opinions may be considered divergent by the mainstream.
Bans on speakers deemed ‘extremist’ within the broad and malleable terms of the PREVENT policy have resulted in unprecedented levels of censorship and self-censorship of Muslim opinion – this at a time when the community most needs the freedom to debate controversial and relevant issues. CAGE will be exploring the implications of this as part of an upcoming panel discussion. Attention should also be drawn to the broader implications of PREVENT, which is now resulting in the classification of environmental lobbying as “extremism”.
The effect of PREVENT on debate and freedom of expression has been chilling, and has resulted in widespread opposition from academics and civil society.
CAGE Communications Officer, Ibrahim Mohamoud, said:
“Freedom of expression should be a right that is applied to all in order to protect the exchange of information and debate. Such a climate enables accountability and justice.”
“CAGE calls for open and dignified discussions based on mutual respect.”
“If contentious Muslim speakers are banned under a blanket definition of ‘extremism’ as is the case with PREVENT, then the younger generation, witnessing the repressive measures, will seek different, potentially dangerous avenues for information. The absence of any opposition from the champions of free speech exacerbates alienation and disenfranchisement.”
“There is more evidence emerging to show that this inability to debate and naturally root out ill-informed opinions, has led to several impressionable young people leaving to join ISIS.”
“If Namazie’s right to free speech is protected, then it follows that the rights of Muslim speakers and others who may have dissenting views, should also be protected. There should be no double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to fundamental rights as it causes division and a two tier justice system. We call on all those that support Namazie’s right to speak to also oppose PREVENT and the forthcoming Counter-Extremism Bill.”
Ibrahim Mohamoud, Communications Officer
+(44) 207 377 6700
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)