A British lawmaker renounced his membership to the Oxford debating society in protest of an appearance by David Irving.
Julian Lewis, the shadow defense minister and a Conservative member of Parliament, turned in his 37-year-old membership to the Oxford Union, where Irving and Nick Griffin, head of the extreme right British National Party, are to discuss the topic of free speech Monday.
Irving, a British amateur historian who repeatedly has questioned accepted facts about the Holocaust, was convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria last year based on a speech in which he cast doubt on the existence of concentration camp gas chambers.
British Defense Secretary Des Browne, television anchor June Sarpong, Labor Parliament member Austin Mitchell and other prominent Britons have canceled future engagements at the Oxford Union in reaction to the decision by students to give a platform to Irving and Griffin, who many consider racist.
Denis MacShane, another Labor member of Parliament, told the British media that Monday’s speeches “will be a festival of anti-Semitism.”
But Luke Tryl, the union’s president, told The Daily Telegraph that his aim was to defeat fascism with “liberal, informed debate.”
“I believe their own publicity will destroy them — they will implode,â€ Tryl is quoted as saying.
In a poll, 1,062 students voted to support the invitations extended to Irving and Griffin, with 640 voting against.