Le Pen Protest Planned
Students are once again outraged at The Union’s controversial choice of speaker.
UPDATE: The Cambridge Jewish Society will not be protesting against Le Pen’s visit to The Union today.
In a statement sent to The Tab, the Presidents of the society, Brett Bernstein and Stephanie Lipman, wrote: ‘CUJS respects Marine le Pen’s right to free speech, hence the society will not take part in the demonstration organized by CU Unite Against Fascism, which defends no-platform for the far-right. However, CUJS stands firmly opposed to the Front National’s ideology whose obsession with immigration and Islamophobia, encourages intolerance, bigotry, and hate.’
Sparks are flying over The Union’s decision to invite Marine Le Pen to speak, as a protest is planned to coincide with her arrival.
The protest, organised by Cambridge Unite Against Fascism and supported by NUS Black Students Campaign and Cambridge University UAF, will take place from 2.30pm next Tuesday, outside The Union.
The UAF endorse a No Platform policy for far-right politicians. Writing to The Tab, they argued: “Many frequently argue that No Platform is against freedom of speech. In reality the exact opposite is the case. Fascists use freedom of speech to spread their message of hate, but destroyed all freedom and democracy when they gained power. No Platform is about defending freedom of speech. All those that oppose fascism should join us on Tuesday 19th February.”
The Union claims that it is a strong advocate of free speech, and believes that inviting Le Pen shows this. “The Union was founded on the principle of freedom of speech for all, irrespective of who they are or what they think,” a spokesperson for The Union said.
“We do not make value judgements about the views of speakers, but provide a forum for all ideas and opinions to be discussed, debated and challenged.”
Despite not agreeing with the No Platform stance of UAF, The Union is not opposed to the demonstration, adding: “We welcome peaceful and non-disruptive protest on the basis that it is the exercise of free speech in a democratic society.”
The organisers are hoping for a good turnout. There are two events on Facebook. The description for one reads: “Thankfully, in Britain, the BNP and the EDL are in disarray because wherever they go, they are opposed, outnumbered, and ultimately exposed by the determined efforts of anti-racists and anti-fascists.
“We can send a message of hope to anti-fascists…by turning out in our hundreds to make clear that Marine Le Pen is not welcome in Cambridge.”