Humans rights group claim Manchester uni controversial Guantanamo talk was axed due to ‘far right’ sabotage

By Glen Keogh

A talk featuring allegedly ‘extremist’ speakers was abandoned at a Manchester university – after being sabotaged by ‘far right groups’, a human rights organisation claimed today.

MM revealed yesterday how links had been drawn between the organisers of the event, Absent Justice, and a group who gave the floor to a speaker with homophobic comments at another university conference in February.

CagePrisoners went on to compare the groups who had allegedly brought the meeting to the university’s attention, to the writing of ‘Anders Breivik in his infamous anti-Muslim hate manual’.

They brand the move as ‘commonplace’ among ‘far-right’ groups who seek to discredit Islamic meetings and scare places like universities off hosting the talks.

Despite co-ordinator Muryum Khan admitting that she had only used the name of registered organisation CagePrisoners to publicise her event, they still provided speakers and have hit out at allegations of extremism.

The university argue that the event was cancelled because it had not been booked properly, therefore a proper risk assessment could not take place.

However, CagePrisoners believe that publicity generated by the lobby group Student Rights, which mentioned the speakers’ alleged links to terrorism, was the real reason behind the cancellation.

“It appears what they have done is relied on biased and inaccurate information provided by a fringe right-wing organisation which seems to have been given undue weight,” a spokesperson said.

“It would seem that certain lobby groups wrote to Manchester Met prior to the event to inform them of the perceived problematic views of [event speakers] Mohammed and Deghayes.  

“Such organisations have made extended efforts to label all our events as ‘extremist’, ‘intolerant’, ‘one-sided’, ‘hateful’, etc, often by recycling the same unsubstantiated links between CagePersons staff and terrorist activity.”

When MM spoke to event co-ordinator Muryum Khan, she said that her Absent Justice group and the planned talk was solely to highlight human rights violations.

This is an ethos said to be shared by CagePrisoners who aim to highlight the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as part of the war on terror.

Student Rights deny they knowingly linked the Absent Justice activists with the Global Aspirations of Women society – the now disbanded group who organised the February event where homophobic comments were made.

Rupert Sutton, a researcher from Student Rights, told MM: “We highlighted this event to the university as previous comments raised by one of the speakers caused concern, as did the lack of balance.

“We suggested that the university provide some form of oversight, and they then found that rules had been broken.

“Balanced debate on campus on difficult issues like counterterrorism should be welcomed, but one-sided events with speakers whose previous views suggest a risk of hate speech or incitement must expect to be subject to scrutiny.”

You can read CagePrisoners full statement here.

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