Ex-Muslim’s scheduled talk cancelled by Canadian university

Ex-Muslim’s scheduled talk cancelled by Canadian university March 23, 2019
Image via Facebook

On March 1 we reported that Oxford University’s student newspaper, Cherwell, published an interview with Armin Navabi, above, founder of Atheist Republicbut refused to allow the interview to be reproduced online because it might be regarded as ‘offensive’. This led to the immediate resignation of the paper’s profile editor, Freddy Howard.

This week Navabi became embroiled in another controversy over free speech when Mount Royal University in Calgary suddenly cancelled a talk he was scheduled to give on Thursday because the timing was considered inappropriate in the light of the mosque shootings in New Zealand.

MRU said in a statement:

Universities are diverse and inclusive places where people should always feel respected and where there is free exchange of ideas. The tragic event that occurred in Christchurch less than a week ago has had a large impact on many members in our community. We made this decision in light of that impact and we would absolutely have the speaker come to our campus at another time.

Navabi, who lives in British Columbia, was being brought to MRU by the Atheist Society of Calgary to share his journey and discuss the reasons he doesn’t believe the Islamic faith can be reformed.

He reacted by asking:

What do they want? Do you want to have less conversation? Isn’t less conversation exactly what leads to people having extreme radical positions?

I mean the less words exchanged between us, the more fists and bullets are going to exchange between people. Having more conversations is exactly what you need in the face of some tragedy like this.

The Atheist Society of Calgary said it was hoping to provide a safe space for open communication and a chance for people to learn more about atheists, from Navabi’s perspective.

The group said  it was also an opportunity to let some people, such as ex-Muslims and other non-believers, know they are not alone.

Navabi says he always struggled with the Islamic faith growing up, even attempting suicide at age 12, as a way to try to escape his fears. Eventually he left Islam, became an atheist, and began sharing his journey with others through his podcast, a book, and talks across the globe.

He says his goal is not to convert people, but to show them that people can disagree and still get along.

Hat tip: Robert Stovold

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  • CoastalMaineBird

    We made this decision in light of that impact and we would absolutely have the speaker come to our campus at another time when people won’t be so likely to notice and get mad.

    How did our Western society grow from “universities are centers of free thought and different ideas” to such pusillanimous pussyfooting ?

  • TrickyDicky

    Well it’s Canada, it’s a cold country so you have to expect a lot of snowflakes.

  • It seems that a lot of liberals fear that giving a platform to folks like Navabi will encourage bigots and white supremacists. (They tend to acknowledge that Islam isn’t a race, but consider Islamophobia racism because of the stereotype that Muslim=”brown person”.)

    This fails to acknowledge that Navabi is not considered white, and seems to imply that criticizing religion is a privilege of those coming out of Christianity and of white people, and that brown people need to shut up about their experiences. (This, curiously, violates a taboo in social justice circles.)

    I think there is a false dilemma that folks are making: one need not choose between opposing bigotry and giving voice to ex-Muslims. I agree with Irshad Manji (a reformist Muslim lesbian refugee and immigrant, a South Asian [and brown person] born in Uganda) that we need to teach people how not to be offended, rather than teaching them how not to offend. (The thing I like about Manji is that she has views that defy the stereotype that free speech absolitism is the perogative of cis-het white dudes, and is all about upholding that privilege. [Note: Based on what I have observed, privilege does exist.] Manji’s expressing those views contradicts those claims.)

  • CoastalMaineBird

    we need to teach people how not to be offended

    Upvote for THAT. That would upset the grievance industry, though.

  • Jim Baerg

    It looked like there was some video equipment recording at the talk given at the alternate venue, which I attended. This may show up on YouTube.

  • Sau Peih

    Canada is not alone in this. UK universities promotes the religion on campus, even going so far as having segregated audiences to keep them happy, and blocks any kind of dissenting voices. Why the special protection? Is it fear or favour?

  • Brian Curtis

    Opposing religion is always offensive; is that supposed to be some sort of drawback?

  • Helen Arrol

    When would be a good time? Two weeks later? Two months? And what about all the Islamic events that happen between that time? Do we not recognise them? Will the Atheist society of Calgary be reimbursed for the expenses of bringing him to Calgary to speak at MRU?

    That Armin was defending the right to chastise the event in NZ was very appropriate. Armin is a defender of having conversation to decrease the chasm between the radical camps of all sort.

    This event was cancelled two days prior to the event.

    Fortunately, the Atheist Society of Calgary planned two events that day with Armin. One at MRU in the afternoon for students and staff, the other in the evening at a public space, which went very well.

  • Helen Arrol

    Yes Jim, there will be a video available fairly soon. Our Atheist Society of Calgary will share it on our Facebook page, website: http://www.atheistcalgary.com, and as many places as we can.

  • kerryberger

    Sadly people of faith have been brainwashed into thinking that Atheism is dangerous and another political evil along-side the LGBTQ Community. This has lead to fear-mongering, stigmatization, and misguided political correctness instead of open rational discussion. This is shameful. It is a basic threat and violation of freedom of and from religion. Universities should know better than to turn down an open discussion that includes someone who has rejected Islam just as they would invite someone who has rejected Christianity, Judaism, etc. Those extremist believers must understand that they do not have the authority of censorship in a democratic society. Criticism of any religious belief is PROTECTED SPEECH.

  • kerryberger

    I totally disagree with you that it is liberals who fear giving a platform to Navabi. It is more likely religious conservatives in the university administration who have expressed a fear of open discussion. Time and time again and historically it is religious conservatives who fear changing the status quo and stepping on toes who resort to trying to censor books, sex education, etc. You seriously need to educate yourself.

  • kerryberger

    What a thoroughly asinine tea bagger level response.

  • I am quoting things I have seen.

    I certainly agree with you that conservatives are worse on censorship than liberals. (I grew up in a cult, so I know that mindset intimately.) This supports the author’s claim, in that moves to censor Navabi from the Left could empower conservative censors.

  • kerryberger

    Usually those are conservative, especially religious universities that practice such censorship. The education level of such universities tends to be spotty to say the least.

  • kerryberger

    Maybe we are closer to agreeing on this subject than I originally read in your response. Out of curiosity what is the purpose of the three ((( ))) between your name?

  • Dhammarato

    (((Kevin))) is like that, he finds whats wrong and then blames his favorite enemy. He is just like all of them.

  • Dhammarato

    you are still pointing to the wrong folks there. from you position very hard right-wing die-hards are to your left. whats “left” of you is 100% of the population. So you call them left, when we all see them and you as extreme right wing.

  • Dhammarato

    but it is funny and that gives it 10 points. Thanks to point this out, for that you get 2 points.

  • Dhammarato

    This too shall pass. the average age of Fox viewer is 73 now. The churches are now nothing more than a granny garage. don’t worry, be happy, Christianity is already on its knees, and with swollen ankles never to rise again. All we have to do now is plug our ears while it screams right out laud for the next 50 years or so. but it is a funeral durdge they sing. So please help Granny off the floor and into bed and kiss her good night, sweet death is coming for her and her church.

  • https://media2.giphy.com/media/3o6ZsSD7UzJPOvQI00/giphy.gif

    The extreme right would probably tell me to leave the country, and possibly have me arrested for treason, and possibly blasphemy:

    I have said harsh things about what hell says about what God is like;

    I consider myself a citizen of the world more than of USA;

    I oppose militarism, and support efforts to work for peace.

    I oppose whitewashing American history.

    These are all things the extreme right hates, and boy do they try to censor those who support them.

  • The triple parentheses is a way to resist the alt-right and show solidarity with Jews, as they often put the triple parentheses around names to identify them as Jewish.

    Putting them around one’s own name is a way of resistance.

  • EquaYona

    While yours is a feel good position, and one can fervently hope you’re correct, I’m not holding my breath. Christianity has waned and waxed in the US many times over the centuries and since nature, and humans abhor a vacuum, it will either surge again or some institution will fill the hole left by the diminished Xtian organizations. I suspect that replacement will not be atheist clubs.

  • kerryberger

    Cool! I like that a lot. I know from doing tracking work on various hate groups about the double parentheses, but not the triple one. Learn something new every day.

  • Dhammarato

    while P.T. Barnum said “there a sucker born every second” and those are the future christens, the problems they face is called “information” It will kill Christianity in 50 years or so, and 50 years after that Islam will also die out. Humans are not as foolish when educated. that’s why Christians and Muslims alike do not want their own kids to be educated, but they cant stop the internet. only add a bunch of lies.