Let him speak: UCLU reverse decision to no-platform Macer
Union backtrack on controversial banning
Jubilant campaigners are celebrating a “win for free speech” as UCLU revoke their decision to ban Macer Gifford from speaking.
The ex-UCL student spent five months in Syria fighting ISIS, but was no-platformed incase he’d inspire others to go and fight.
President of the Kurdish society Kavar Kurda, who had invited Macer to speak, then started a petition to get Macer in, which had over 1,000 signatures.
Now the Union have finally backed down and said they are “able to provide him a platform”.
In an email to Kavar seen by The Tab, Asad Khan, Union officer, said: “UCL has finally had a response from the police today stating it is legally acceptable for UCL and UCLU to host Macer Gifford on campus and therefore we would be able to provide him a platform if you decide to host him.
“Although UCLU continues to be concerned about the alleged human rights abuses associated with YPG, we do realise freedom of speech is of paramount importance on any university campus and in particular on the UCL campus.
“Our membership deserves to hear different and legal views, and we will attempt to uphold freedom of speech as far as legally possible.
“It is asked Macer Gifford does not say anything to glorify violence and/or create a sentiment which encourages students to go and fight abroad, which may put them in harm’s way.
“Furthermore, due to the wide media attention that is has gathered, the event would have to be a members only event with only UCLU members able to attend.”
Why is student-union censoring criticism of Islamic State? Censoring, indeed, a hero who fought alongside the Kurds https://t.co/LonrM3dY4q
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 6, 2015
Asad originally prevented Macer from coming because “one man’s freedom fighter in another man’s terrorist”, and “in every conflict there are two sides, and at UCLU we want to avoid taking sides in conflicts”.
Kavar hailed the decision as a “win for free speech”.
He told The Tab: “It’s a win for free speech in as much as Macer is finally being given the platform he and we deserve.
“It’s a shame the decision was made following police advice rather than a conscious decision to appeal to some sort of moral compass from the Union.
“The Union have not apologised for their comments, nor do they accept they were wrong to no platform him in the first place.
“I greatly look forward to the speech, but it’s a shame we still find ourselves trapped in an undemocratic university of censorship.”
Macer, who has just got back from America, is “really happy” with the news and is looking forward to speaking.
He said: “I’m really happy UCL have reversed their decision. The huge support I’ve received has been amazing.
“The fight against ISIS is a defining moment of our generation. This isnt a religious war, this is a fight against facisim and fanaticism.
“We must challenge their ideology of hate on every front. That can be in the streets of Raqqa or on the classroom. The ISIS ideology should be open to challenge and ridicule, that’s what a free society is all about.
“I look forward to sharing my story with the students at UCL and I can’t wait to answer any questions they level at me.”