Asad needs to apologise for what he said about Macer

He allegedly said ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist’

Tragic events in Paris last night must surely trigger an appeal to a moral compass for our union. 

Yesterday The Tab published a story about how UCLU had finally allowed Macer Gifford to speak. The story was published a couple of hours before the horrendous reports of shootings and explosions in Paris, for which ISIS has now claimed responsibility.

Given the new-found context of the story (as if previous events in Beirut and Baghdad already this week, alongside Tunisia and countless others in recent months and years weren’t enough), it’s now worth considering the chain-of-events and reflecting on them as a whole.



Activities and Events Officer Asad Khan no-platformed Macer, claiming the University had not had police confirmation it was safe for him to speak. Macer is a human rights activist who has appeared on the BBC and spoken at SOAS, nothing short of a hero. A man who quit his comfortable city job to go to Syria and make a change rather than just tweeting “something needs to change” like the rest of us.

However, accepting that such high-security issues were beyond them, UCLU decided to contact the police for advice so they could make an informed decision. When the police didn’t reply in time for the talk, they decided to cancel it for safety fears.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 14.17.47

Asad must issue an apology

But it went horrifically wrong when, in meetings and in emails sent to Kurdish Society President Kavar Kurda, Asad claimed “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”, and “in every conflict there are two sides, and at UCLU we want to avoid taking sides in conflicts”.

Now, bear in mind the other “side” – the debatable “freedom fighter” Asad refers to – is ISIS: a cowardly, masked group of extremists mercilessly killing innocent people across the globe. Not people, like Macer, going to Syria to fight them armed with missiles and guns – but men, women and children at concerts, in cafés and in bars armed with a pint of Kronenburg or a cappuccino.

When UCLU reversed their decision, they cited the police’s recommendation and completely failed to take back the comments made by Asad, as they did in their statement when the news originally broke.

How can we feel safe in the capital city when our own student union fail to condemn a monstrous group like ISIS? These are the people who are meant to represent the voice of the student body as a whole. We’re not calling for the Sabbatical Officers to take arms and grab the next flight to Turkey, but they must publicly condemn ISIS and Asad must take back the comments made to Kavar.

We all live and study in the middle of London, only a five minute walk from Kings Cross St Pancras, and from tourist hotspots in the West End. We’re geographically more at risk as a student body – I’d say – than any other university in the country, perhaps even in the Western world, and our own union won’t denounce the group posing the risk.

Asad must issue an apology

This is absolutely shameful and I hope fellow students will join me, alongside many others, imploring UCLU to do what they should’ve done weeks and months ago and finally condemn the most terrifying aspect of contemporary society.

UCLU must pass a motion actively condemning them, and Asad needs to issue an apology for the hugely offensive comments made.