I’m setting up this timeline as a reference of sorts for anyone who needs the information collected in one spot. Ophelia Benson started it off, so a huge, huge thanks goes to her. In fact, most of these links will be going to posts by Ophelia, since it was through her that I followed this story. So if you want to thank anyone for the information I’m providing here, please thank Ophelia.
The summary is basically this: University College London (UCL) allowed the Islamic Education & Research Academy (IERA) to set up a debate between Hamza Tzortzis and Lawrence Krauss. The debate was called “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” The title itself is asinine as all hell, and why Krauss agreed to the debate I’ll never understand. The debate almost didn’t happen, however, because the IERA enforced gender segregation. Krauss had to threaten to leave three times before they finally “caved”, except they didn’t really cave at all.
Timeline with links and such after the fold:
Things are quiet until…
That same post was updated twice, as you can see. The first update was simply that Chris had contacted Lawrence Krauss, who told the organizers that he wasn’t doing the debate unless there was no enforced segregation. The second update involves Chris being told by UCL that no gender segregation would be allowed… and, as we’re about to see, that was patently ignored.
March 9 was the debate. And it was not good. Turns out that a lot of people, including Chris and Lawrence himself, were lied to. Dana Sondergaard posted video of Lawrence Krauss rightfully leaving (though, sadly, not for good) on her Facebook page.
Ophelia Benson highlighted some tweets about the debate on March 9, as well.
On March 10, Richard Dawkins put up an article explaining everything. I’ll quote a few points here, but the whole thing needs to be read:
Lawrence Krauss has told me of a remarkable meeting at University College, London last night (March 9th) where he had a debate with a Muslim spokesman.
A few days ago, I had received a tip-off from somebody who had made an inquiry about tickets: ‘We contacted the organizers today and learnt that “as for seating, it is according to when the ticket was booked and gender”.’
“Gender”? Seating at a public event in UCL organized by gender?
I passed this on to Lawrence, with the suggestion that he might consider withdrawing from the whole affair. He immediately asked the organizers, who assured him that the audience would not be segregated by sex, and Lawrence agreed to go ahead.
When he got to the meeting he discovered that actually the seating in the auditorium was indeed segregated by sex. There was a men’s section, a women’s section, and a “couples” section. Did the “couples” have to produce a marriage certificate, one can’t help wondering? And, while wondering such things, what would have been the reaction of the audience if they had been segregated, as in apartheid South Africa, into a black section, a white section and a “coloureds” section?
When Lawrence realised that he had been duped, he immediately secured permission from the organizers to announce that – contrary to previous instructions – people could sit wherever they wanted. Three young men, described by Lawrence as nice gentle guys, then got up and moved to the women’s section in the back. “In the back”, by the way, may resonate with those who remember Rosa Parks in Alabama in 1955. Security guards then tried to eject the three young men. Lawrence went to find out why, and the guards told him the three were a “threat”. Threat to whom, one wonders?
Lawrence then packed his bag and walked out, explaining why he was doing so, and this part of the evening’s events was filmed by Dana Sondergaard on a smartphone.
Lawrence did in fact return, after being told that the segregation would no longer be enforced, but all they did was allow those three men to sit in back.
I want to note the fact that women were asked to “sit in back”. Anybody remember Rosa Parks? If you do, then this should seem familiar to you.
Also on March 10, Chris Moos wrote a letter to UCL. That link is to Ophelia’s post, which includes the letter in full. Please read it.
Later on during the day, concerned UCL students wrote a press release. Here’s the text at Ophelia’s blog.
The story also made The Guardian on March 10.
On today, March 11, Abishek N. Phadnis put up a guest post at Ophelia’s blog giving a lot more background and information about this event and quite a bit of history that puts it into a rather dim perspective.
Also today, UCL themselves posted about this whole mess on their own news site. They note that they have banned the IERA from doing any more events at the UCL campus.
But we aren’t done. Today brings about more disturbing news, as Students Rights noted in their own post on this issue that it was not a one-off thing, but in fact seems to be the MO of the IERA. They also published an opinion piece written by a student who was at the debate.
And finally, Ophelia Benson has a nice round-up of commentary on this whole mess, including a statement by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (hosted on Maryam Namazie’s blog) amongst other great commentaries. Please read through that post and the links therein for any more information.
What we’ve seen here is complete and total gender apartheid. When are these Muslims going to learn that they do not have the right to force their bullshit on the rest of us?
A lot of people defending the segregation are saying quite stupid things like “if women don’t want to sit with men, what’s the problem?” The problem is that there was no choice. The segregation was enforced. They actually asked people their gender (specifically: man or woman… note the total binary they operated on there, utterly ignoring the transgendered) when they bought tickets, then assigned seats accordingly. That is not choice; it’s force.
Forced gender segregation. In London. In 2013.
Please post any other links and information I may have missed or that comes out in the near future. Thank you.