Campus wars and freedom of speech


The campus wars over Israel-related freedom of speech continues. 

Is heckling a speaker freedom of speech, or an attempt to restrict it? Is campaigning against bringing a speaker to campus a legitimate tactic, or is such an approach anathema to free expression?

Faisal Hanjra, president of the Federation of Students of Islamic Societies, an umbrella group for Muslim students, writes in the U.K. Guardian:

The path that requires courage is for us sometimes to hear views we find thoroughly distasteful on campus: justice lies in consistency. As the umbrella body for Islamic societies, our stance has been clear for years and is perhaps best represented by our response to Benny Morris, whom many of us view as a justifier of ethnic cleansing, being invited by the Cambridge University Israel Society. While we abhor the views he espouses, we would not seek to prevent him from addressing students on university campuses. Rather, we would implore and encourage students who disagree with him to arm themselves with facts and information to engage in debate and publicly challenge his views. We believe this to be the most constructive, mature and appropriate way to respond to those whom we disagree with, not to start calling for them to be banned.

This was reflected in our proposal for an NUS-led event with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) to discuss freedom of expression. But what followed instead was a tirade of unsubstantiated attacks on Muslim speakers, with UJS’s post-conference statement clarifying their hostile intent.

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