UPDATE: DSK Bruised But Not Beaten At Union
Tough questions inside and protests outside made sure DSK didn’t get an easy ride in his headline Union appearance.
UPDATE 11th March
The Union have uploaded a video of DSK’s speech and the following Q&A session. It can be seen here.
200 protesters, 2 arrests and a pointed question on ‘vaginal bruising.’ DSK’s appearance at the Union last night proved as controversial as expected.
DSK flanked by bodyguards – photo by the Union Society
Dominique Strauss-Kahn managed to talk about economics for most of the evening to an under-capacity Union, but the ex-IMF Chief was forced from home turf when a student asked about rape allegations made earlier this year.
Will Lawn, a 3rd year student from King’s College asked Strauss-Kahn to “explain why Diallo had vaginal bruising the day after you met her,” referring to the hotel maid who alleges that DSK raped her in May 2011.
Security, who flanked DSK throughout the talk, tried to rush him out, but both Strauss-Kahn and Union President Katie Lam let him finish his question.
Strauss-Kahn responded by saying: “I’m not quite sure that’s the topic of this evening. New York dismissed the case… What more do you want?”
Lawn later told The Tab: “[DSK] coming to talk on economics was absurd. I just wish that more people pressed him on his rape case. He is an example of when rape cases haven’t come through. It’s a massive problem.”
Not all students took the same view, however. Hugo Macklin, a Johnian who asked DSK about French politics, told The Tab: “There is an important issue about rape, but tonight isn’t in any way the time to raise that.”
Macklin did however add that: “he answered the questions about rape very well.”
But while there was limited opposition within the chamber, outside the Union the atmosphere was vitriolic.
Behind the debating chamber over 200 protesters clashed with police and security, parading anti-DSK placards and chanting slogans such as “No more violence, no more rape” and “DSK, go away, justice for Diallo.”
Activists also clashed with a pro-DSK campaigner, ripping the sign he was carrying, which was covered in free speech slogans.
Photo by Harry Shukman
Anti-DSK protesters had been gathering since 5.30pm, when over 100 people marched from King’s Parade to the Union building’s rear entrance on Park Street, where guests were queuing.
Photo by Harry Shukman
Two protesters were arrested during Strauss-Kahn’s talk, and three more escorted from Union property after climbing over the security fence.
Chants were audible throughout the talk, but when asked about the protests Strauss-Kahn said: “We live in a culture of freedom; they are allowed to do what they want, even if I think they are wrong.”
DSK managed to make a stealthy exit after the talk, avoiding the mob by somehow slipping out through near-by Pizza Express.
In a statement released shortly after the event, the Union emphasised that: “there was no restriction on questions from the audience or on their content”, adding that Lawn was approached by security after his question because “a private security guard mistakenly interpreted this question as an attempt to disrupt the event… his actions had not breached the code of conduct for the event.”
In reference to the protests, Union sources said: “The police commended the Union and Hyline [security company] on their actions, emphasising that they saw no wrongdoing occur.”
Additional reporting by Sebastian Salek