Written by Student Rights on 14 February 2012 at 1pm

Hamza Tzortzis and his Dirty Debating Tricks

Tonight will see the former Hizb-ut-Tahrir member Hamza Tzortzis arrive at Sheffield Hallam University as part of his Islamic Awareness Week Tour.  He will be debating a committee member from the Sheffield University Atheist Society, something which we welcome here at Student Rights rather than having him speak unopposed. However, we have been contacted by members of the Atheist Society who are concerned about the manner in which the Islamic Awareness Week itself is being organised.

This stems from the fact that their debate with Hamza was only revealed to them recently, after the Islamic Society “initially implied we would be debating their members”. This has given them little time to prepare and could be used by Tzortzis to declare that no high profile defender of Liberalism could be found.

Indeed, he has used this trick recently, saying on Facebook that he “Just heard that Maryam Namazie has asked the Atheist society in University College Cork (Ireland) to cancel the forthcoming debate on the 15 February. The debate was going to be on "Islam vs. Secularism"...So much for intellectual discourse and dialogue”. This of course suggests that Namazie is refusing to debate him yet ignores that fact that she has saidthe event was postponed since a topic couldn’t be agreed upon”.                  

This trick has also apparently been used with regards to the second debate of the week, at which Adam Deen, the prominent Muslim apologist, will be discussing the topic ‘Is God Evil?’. The Atheist Society has told us that since the Islamic Society “have turned down the experienced philosophy student we put forward. It is too late to invite someone "better””. They suspect that this will once again be used to claim that they are afraid of being beaten in a debate. 

The idea that speakers like Hamza Tzortzis should have their opinions and ideology debated on campus is one which we have promoted at Student Rights; balanced platforms are the way to expose weak reasoning and ideology for what it is and give critical thought a chance to flourish. However, when this sort of trickery is applied in the run up to debates it simply creates a climate of suspicion and mistrust. If your argument is strong enough you shouldn’t have to resort to such tactics, which might tell you all you need to know about the validity of Tzortzis’ ideas.