Dawkins outraged by Islamic gender segregation at UCL

UCL blamed for 'sexual apartheid' by Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

Yesterday evening, an event held at UCL sparked outrage in the atheist world. A debate as part of Hamza Andreas Tzortzis’ ‘Islamic Awareness Tour’, pitted the international public speaker on Islam against Lawrence Krauss, a world famous cosmologist, on the topic “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”. However, Krauss almost walked out after men and women were segregated to abide by Islamic law, and three students threatened with expulsion for sitting in the wrong place.

Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins then took to twitter in a rage over the event, appalled by the university’s endorsement of the segregation, leaving Dawkins particularly angry at UCL’s “cowardly capitulation to Muslims..” A succession of tweets expressed his dismay over this conduct as he blamed both Muslims and the university for enforcing the rule.

On his personal website he went on to describe how three young men moved into the women’s section of the audience before UCL security threatened to eject them. He described the segregation as “sexual apartheid” and called for “heads to roll”.

Being described by others on twitter as ‘modern’ and ‘secular’, UCL’s decision has caused an uproar within Dawkin’s followers, who now blame the university for “religious misogyny”. Many see this as a complete contradiction of UCL’s principles and maintain that the institution should not show preference to the religious ideals of any particular faith.

Mr Krauss posted a link to a video on twitter earlier today which shows him refusing outright to be involved with the event any longer as long as there was forced segregation in the audience. The video can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151324574843231&set=vb.506433230&type=2&theater

Some audience members in attendance expressed their shock on Facebook, with one member posting: “Ucl security helped to enforce the segregation. Shameful!”

Gender equality, a contentious issue for the vast majority of the student body, was sidelined last night and therefore the objectivity of a secular institution has come into question both within UCL and beyond Gower Street. Richard Dawkins has called for an inquiry as to whether UCL authorities were aware of the sexual apartheid, as he lamented the loss of our “enlightened thinking” and liberalism.


  • Concerned

    Shame on UCL?? More like shame on the muslims at UCL! How backward are these people.. Interesting to note, the muslims at UCL are gathering huge power! Look at the election results, all the main positions were won by candidates with Islamic Society backing! Apart from Doris Chen, although it was very close between her and Omar, but she won cause of the sports vote. So ISoc now can influence a lot of UCL policy! So much for “The godless institution of gower street” …

    • Use your wisdom

      Ridicules comment!! Before you go around blaming people and being a bigot, think and look at the facts.
      Ucl Isoc had no involvement t whatsoever. Maybe this whole fiasco might not have happened if they had organise it.


      • Dichard Rawkins

        Notice how every muslim posting on this page is trying to take blame away from muslims and isoc.

        None of them are saying anything about the segregation being a terrible idea. It’s like asking a homophobic person “I’m going to kill that gay over there, any objections?” and the response is “I don’t have any opinion on this at all”.

        You goddamn well know that this is islamic idealogy at play, whether isoc or whoever had anything to do with it isn’t even the real issue. The real issue is why these muslims are so adamantly trying to shift blame rather than actually condemning the segregation.

        Read the quran, verse 4:34. a husband can beat his wife as long as he doesn’t leave any marks on her. In the hadith, mohammad said that a woman can only prove rape if she has four witnesses. And you wonder where this culture of segregation and misogyny comes from.

    • Real UCL student

      This derogatory comment is absolute rubbish, how can you even mention the muslim students on campus on this article when this event was not organised by any UCLU society or by any UCL student. Absolutely shameless targeting of the muslim minority here and I request this comment be removed for both off-topic mention of the ISoc and hate-speech towards a whole category of UCL students who played no part in this farce.

      ps. UCL has never been “the godless institute of gower street” – please look up the meaning of the word “Secular”

    • More concerning

      Having an issue with the external organisation (and with UCL) who organised this event, and the seating, is one thing. It’s another thing entirely to attack all “muslims at ucl” and then to equate them all with Isoc, and then complain ‘they’ have got too much influence. Be careful.

      The point of UCL was not to be atheistic, but to be secular and welcoming to those of all religions. Generalising and attacking the Muslim population here undermines those liberal principles.

  • Bertie the athiest

    So when Kirk Sneade ran for Women’s officer, he is ‘sexiest’, ‘homophobic’.. the list goes on.
    But when its Religion, its not so bad…
    seriously WTF is wrong with people?

    • jbasil

      The sexiest :)

      • Bertie the athiest

        there is no typo. i meant what i wrote. 😉

  • Wut.

    Fucking hell.
    Is gender segregation genuinely a mainstream opinion in the UCL Muslim community then? Would appreciate a reply from a member of this community…

    • Zain

      There is a concept of gender segregation in islam, but its not based on inequality and it doesnt apply for every setting, its more to prevent promiscuity and people meeting up alone. Seems stupid now but at the time it was different and there was a horribly mysoginistic culture in Arabia, and it was more to protect the women than anything else. A lot of aspecs that are percieved as part of Islam is just this culture resurfacing back in, and people assuming that Saudi culture is intrinsically islamic so they have to follow. Not sure if it would apply to things like public debates and things, and if it does the way it should be is for the men to offer up their place for the women out of respect. Yes i know equality is great and all but sometimes being a gentlemen isnt the same as being a chauvinist pig. Not sure what the Isoc was thinking when they applied it here. The way the Isoc runs is it shows the views of whoever is running it. I remember going for friday prayers on the 9th of Moharram, and the sermon before was completely along the lines of a particular viewpoint of that is not shared by all muslims. They quoted a saying which is contentious within different sects of islam, and disregarded the other sects views on why the day holds significance. Don’t lump the UCL Muslim community in with the Isoc, they dont represent each and every one of us even if thats what they would like to believe

      • HH
      • Deavman

        Please stop the apologetic BS. There is nothing in Islamic culture directed at protecting women. Instead it is more like protecting family honor where women are always treated as if they were about to have sexual intercourse with anything male. Women will be be scolded at the very least and beaten or worse, if they stray from their assigned conduct. Instead of trying to explain how this is not connected in any way to UCL or Isoc, you should be blasting this display of intolerant, backward, middle-age based practice because obviously, you are against it……or are you ?

        • Wow

          So this guy doesn’t see any problem at all in attacking isoc for the actions of an entirely seperate, different organisation. That’s reasonable…

        • Gf

          What the hell are you on about? You know f”’ all about islam, but you see fit to go on message boards and accuse all muslims of scolding, beating and degrading women? How dare you accuse so many different people from such various and diverse backgrounds like that!? But I guess trying to actually understand the world would be too hard for you. I guess ‘they all look the same to you’ so you can lump ‘them’ altogether so you can blast them. Yeah, of course people want to stand up for women. One of the first things towards that is getting your target right, and not coming across like a racist prick.

    • Joe

      What are you talking about? The event had no involvement with Muslims on campus, it was organized and run by an external company booking UCL as a venue and was not connected with UCL isoc in any way.

      Its a pretty gross and inaccurate generalization to jump from that to “Muslims on campus”

  • Generalising

    However you feel about it, its not right to generalise about all muslims because of the actions of some. Dawkins comments about “some Muslim or other” and “who the hell do these Muslims think they are” isn’t necessarily islamophobic but it doesn’t make me feel particularly comfortable. Imagine if the word muslims was replaced with another minority group…

    • Buck

      Dawkins said, “these Muslims..” They were in fact Muslim. What’s your point?

    • Jaja

      He said ‘THESE Muslims’ not ‘Muslims’ or ‘all Muslims’

    • HH

      It’s not a term that scans well. Depending on how you mean it, it could mean two different thinks.

      “who the hell do *these* muslims think they are” means who the hell do these particular individuals think they are.

      “who the hell do these *muslims* thinks they are” sounds like a generalisation aimed at all muslims.

      The ambiguity is unfortunate, given how sensitive this subject is.

  • Inayah

    The event mentioned had no affiliation with UCL union, or the Islamic Society, and was organised by an external organisation with audience members also not being from UCL.

    See UCLU Islamic Society’s statement here: http://uclisoc.com/2013/03/10/islam-or-atheism-which-makes-more-sense-update/

  • Richard Carlson

    There is no way that UCLA would allow segregation by race at an event on their campus. Surely they can see that segregation by sex is no different. The irony of our times; the most difficult organization to get a hold of by phone is the phone company,one of the only things on this continent not made in China is Chinese food, and some of the most ignorant behaviors are expressed by the institutions whose soul purpose is to push back the curtain of ignorance.

  • the truth

    This event was held by IERA which is an external organisation that has no link to UCLU or the Islamic Society. So can comments refrain from judging the Isoc or Muslims on campus at UCL as its nothing to do with them. All questions should be directed to the organisation that held the event.

  • Illuminati

    the atheist geezer lost the debate and is now trying to divert the attention to this petty issue of segregation

  • F

    This event had nothing to do with the Isoc of UCL, the union or Muslims on campus. We have never enforced segregation, and we never will.

  • Anonymous

    Can Richard Dawkins please provide empirical evidence that segregation is ‘wrong’?

    • Phillip

      Think about what you just said. I am quite unsure as to whether you are a troll or an idiot. If you are a troll, what is your use here? If you are an idiot, read ‘The Moral Landscape’ by Sam Harris.

      • Burlington Bert

        great book. you are an ok dude Phillip.

  • Anonymous

    kind of disappointing, this event was not organised by any muslim student at ucl, especially not by the isoc, yet we will get demonised because of what someone else did.

    really disappointed that the tab is helping peddle this sensationalist, islamophobic message

  • Sarah

    The ISOC of UCL has never forced the two sexes to be separated, however if you go to an ISOC event you will usually see the separation as that is what many of the members choose. This segregation was enforced by an outside party, nothing to do with the ISOC of UCL. This atheist is clearly only trying to divert attention from the fact that he had lost the debate.

    • Hypocrites

      “The ISOC of UCL has never forced the two sexes to be separated” … Apart from when you have prayers every Friday?! The ‘Brothers’ pray in the Conference Room, while the ‘Sisters’ pray in Room 204. So UCLU ISoc does enforce segregation!! No point trying to dodge the bullet here, UCLU ISoc and Islam as a whole still practice gender segregation. Beth Sutton eat your heart out haha!!

      Reference: http://uclisoc.com/prayer-room/

  • Internationalwomensday

    Beth Sutton is going to going to be apoplectic when she hears about this

  • S Alexander

    So if the Muslims at UCL or their society weren’t responsible for this then who was? More so, I believe secular entails not giving precedent to any one religion. Tolerance is one thing, bending knee and forfeiting your rights to a religion is another. In this case, the segregation seemed to be mandated for everyone, whether they liked it or not, hence why it is mentioned that 3 people were even forced to leave. Thus, this is a matter of giving one particular religion precedent and expecting everyone to forfeit their freedom to this religion’s demands made by its adherents.

    • HH

      An external organisation that had arranged with UCL to book one of the university’s rooms for its event. Being in a convinient location in central(ish) London, UCL quite often hires out its spaces for use by all types of external organisations.

      Nothing to do with the ISoc

  • Syo3eb

    I am a Muslim student studying at UCL. I was on campus the whole day yesterday working on my project. I had no knowledge of this event as this event was not organised by any UCL student. I only knew about the event when told by a friend regarding this article this evening. Upon finding out what the event was, I discovered that this event was organised by IERA (http://www.iera.org.uk/) which dealt directly with UCL authorities and booked a venue within the UCL Bloomsbury campus for their event.

    I have been in touch with other UCL Muslims and the UCLU Islamic Society. The UCLU Islamic Society confirms that this event was not organised by the UCLU Islamic Society or any UCL Muslim student.

    • Syo3eb

      *Also, the attendees of the event were also not UCL students.

  • Areeb

    Important to clarify and note that this event was not organised by the UCLU iSOC or any other Muslim student organisation on campus. The Tab for future clarity and reference should emphasise or include this important fact in the article.


    The Tab clearly has a vendetta against UCLU ISOC and is reporting inaccurately by trying to portray the event that this incident occurred as an event run by UCLU ISOC. This is very cheap reporting and frankly a smear campaign against a society who had nothing to do with what happened. I ask that the tab put a correction that this event was not run by UCLU ISOC. The tab is also putting undue stress on people who run the society by making false accusations and implications.

    • Luke Sproule

      Please point out where this article in any way implies that ISCO had anything to do with the event.

  • Juno

    Ok, so we get that ISoc had no involvement in this event. However, in light of what happened does UCLU ISoc endorse iERA (Islamic Education Research Academy) who are quote “an international dawah organisation committed to educating and informing humanity about Islam”. From what happened it is clear that iERA do believe in gender segregation and tried to force it upon the attendees at the debate (muslims and non-muslims alike). So is this what they want non-muslims to know about Islam? That Islam believes in gender segregation? Clearly seems that way. When such a prominent islamic organisation has that view, it does reflect badly on the muslim community as a whole. Would be interested to hear what ISoc has to say to this, do they support iERA?

  • DangerousTalk

    Lawrence Krauss nearly walks out of Islam debate over segregation – http://t.co/4nI6zUT4V7

  • Salahuddin

    Its a shame that a couple of uncivilised disrespectful men had to disrupt an otherwise amazing well organised event.

    Clearly this was a pre-planned tactic to divert attention away from the actual outcome of the debate.

    Men forcing themselves upon women yesterday and promoting incest
    between a brother and sister. Whats next Krauss? Genderless toilets? Its
    very clear that Islam is based upon Moral guidance and more beneficial
    to Human Society and Atheism is degrading our society as can clearly be
    seen by the moral decline of the west over the last 100 years. Clearly
    Islam is more sensible.

    • Michael

      Why should I relegate my morality to the teachings of a book thousands of years old? You say that Islam is more sensible, but in reality it’s literally a breeding pit for extremity. But isn’t all religion, including Atheism. It’s a shame that a couple of uncivilized and disrespectful men had to fly two 747s into the World Trade Centre. And are you saying you wouldn’t use the same toilet as a female? You sound ridiculous. Moral decline of the West? Must have coincided with women attaining rights. Do you even realize the inherent misogyny in your post? Let me break it down for you. Segregation reaffirms patriarchy, patriarchy enforces class discrimination, racism and general inequality. It isn’t women making the decision to be segregated, it’s men deciding that this is the best action for women (and subsequently men). The promotion of female chastity is only the product of a society that has historically placed value on legitimate heirs – worldwide – control females and you control the power to prescribe gender roles to pretty much anything. Everybody’s done it. Roman, Christian, Ottoman, you name it. So the moral decline of the West must be the change in society that we’ve been waiting for. You know, the one that’s going to *attempt* to promote equality. Fuck man, did you even go to school?

  • Arjun

    Did NOT expect this is a modern and developed country like England, and that too in London. this just goes to show that undesirable backward elements are creeping into places which should be miles away from these idiotic bigots. Why don’t they keep their regressive and backward values and ‘ethics’ in the medieval jungle where they belong instead of infiltrating civilized congregations with the same? And what’s more shameful is that the university meekly obliged to such an ignominious arrangement. And why the hue and cry about ‘islamophobia’ ? if the values of this religion and culture are against the modern ones accepted by a healthy society, then why should we NOT oppose them? What gives ‘Islam’ immunity from all criticism, and in this case, valid ones. No one is painting all Muslims with the same brush, but if you shirk away from accepting that this type of thinking is encouraged under its aegis, then there are no holds barred.

  • HayMan

    Segregation? Really? In these modern times? Completely ridiculous. It was not a religious event held in a church. It was a public event at a university.

    I don’t care what your beliefs are, you should be smart enough to see how segregation is completely ignorant and wrong.

  • Adam

    How fitting that the debate was titled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”
    iERA’s gender segregation rules prove that Islam lost the debate even before it began.

  • Michael

    Ah Religion, the most prominent method of ascribing forced gender roles to control power relations between differing groups of people. Smash patriarchy.

  • Veritas Aquitas

    What all this bruhaha about anyways. Anyone who was at the debate would have noticed that the first 5 seats were mixed, and there was a small group of women who CHOOSE to sit alone in the back. Everyone was fine with it but 3 impetuouse lads who wanted to impose on the rights of those women who wanted to sit alone. what is the UCL going to do next ban themselves for forced segregation of washrooms? I mean how ridiculous is this. This is clearly an attempt to side track the fact the prof. krause was inept in responding to the arguments put forth. He couldn’t even discern between an inductive and a deducive argument. How sad. These militant atheist, prof krause and his like i.e dawkins and harris etc are great scientists but they are intellecually challanged. They don’t even have basic knowledge of philosophy. The debate should be uploaded soon and it will be evident as to how prof. krause was a complete train wreck.

  • Florence M

    Why didn’t UCL make their seating arrangements public before holding this event? That way, those who feel uncomfortable having to sit with someone of the same sex could stay at home.

  • Man defined as woman

    Where’s Beth Sutton when you actually need her?

Heard something newsworthy?

Middle class fans are the best thing that’s ever happened to grime

They were listening to Julio Bashmore two years ago

, Fashion Editor at The Tab London

Students flock to hear Ban Ki Moon speak in London

And his selfie game is on point


Best Dressed: Men’s Rugby Boat Ball

There are some really big shoulders here

What your Lent resolution says about you

So you’re giving up chocolate again?

, Contributing Editor

The best football gambler in the world is hiring

His statistical model beats the bookies most weeks

, Chief Reporter

The weirdest things you’re giving up for Lent

ASOS, sex and one guy is even giving up his girlfriend

, Chief Reporter

Commenters on this article from 2001 predicted Tinder and Instagram

They somehow saw Dogspotting coming too

, Chief Reporter

More evidence that barristers are the hottest professionals in London

Look at those cheekbones

, Contributing Editor

This video shows how 200 new skyscrapers will alter London forever

It looks completely different