Written by Student Rights on 23 November 2012 at 4pm

Peaceful protest planned against Abu Usamah's appearance at Brunel

On Tuesday 27th November students at Brunel University will assemble on campus to protest against the invitation of Abu Usamah At-Thahabi after Student Rights contacted a number of societies and informed them of his previous statements.

Organised by the Vice President and Campaigns Chair at the Union of Brunel Students (UBS), and working closely with the university LGBT Society, the peaceful protest plans to highlight that Thahabi’s views “are not those of the vast majority of Brunel Students”, with 74 students indicating that they will be attending.

In response, the National Union of Students LGBT Officer Sky Yarlett has told students at Brunel that:

“...we would not recommend holding a protest against this speaker as it feels like it's putting a divide between the LGBT community and the members of the ISoc, and doesnt [sic] give space for the group to have a dialogue and resolve this and work together”.

This has advice has been rejected by many of the students involved, one of whom stated that:

The NUS is always first to encourage protests and action against fascists/BNP and groups like that but when our student population needs protection from an individual who is actually inciting violence and using some of the most vile speech I've ever heard you guys cower away asking for us to conduct in "dialogue"”.

Here at Student Rights we have highlighted our reluctance to call for speakers to be barred from campuses, as the right to freedom of expression should be extended even to those whose views we find offensive.

However, it is clear that a significant number of students at Brunel University find Thahabi’s views more than offensive, and in fact many find them upsetting and threatening. We have called on the university to review its decision but it has been made clear that the event will go ahead.

As such, it is fantastic to see students coming together to express their revulsion for the views expressed in the past by Abu Usamah and to show their anger at the fact that he has been allowed a platform.