UK student atheist socs face prejudice and death threats

The National Student carries an article detailing some disturbing evidence that atheist and secularist student societies are having a hard time in the UK’s universities.

Death threats and vandalism have dogged the Leeds University Atheist Society, prompted by their 24/7 ‘Rationalist Week 09’ and by a debate on free speech involving the Motoons. Apparently the death threats weren’t taken too seriously, as they were not reported to the police.

Further south, Southampton University Atheist Society had a free-speech debate repeatedly blocked by both the Muslim Society and the SU because they wanted to show Fitna as part of the event. They were eventually given permission to go ahead, but only with a police presence and security searches.

Chloë Clifford-Frith, press officer for The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, says:

Student Unions may feel pressured to automatically side with religious groups because of the current trend, and religious groups are increasingly demanding immunity from having their ideas discussed. It should be noted that in both incidents neither of the Muslim Societies were actually even being targeted for criticism.

6 Responses to “UK student atheist socs face prejudice and death threats”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Oh, to be young again, with an open, inquiring mind!!

  2. Paul says:

    In mid 1990s, a sizeable group of students, including myself, tried to set up a secular/disestablishment group at our university in Yorkshire. This was in reponse to obvious demand and the fact that the NUS branch was throwing money at various religious groups. This university had so many different societies, including one for Black people (which only allowed black people); an Asian Society (again asian only and quite rigidly enforced too) and a women only society (perhaps the most enforced of them all). So we applied for official recognition, use of a room once a week and funding.
    I think you can all guess the response. We were called everything from Fascist to Marxist (we were strictly politically neutral, just wanted religion removed from government) sexist, racist, xenophobic,etc, etc. Sadly it seems times have not changed. There appears to be too many bigots and religious nutters who are allowed unrestricted access to university campuses. I hope these secular societies survive.

  3. Jumile says:

    Has it always been like this in the UK, with the need for searches and security presence for certain (any!) student group activities? I ask because I went to uni in Australia in the early 1990s and couldn’t have conceived of the presence of a security guard within half a mile let alone what is described in this post.

    What kind of world have we made for ourselves?

  4. Sir Hartley Caughtshort says:

    Lets face facts, the whole religious revival phenomenon would not carry the weight it now does without the crazy laws that have been coerced from our law makers through the global influece of radical Islam.

    Laws that that treat what is basically a ‘mindset’, as an individual entity that may be slandered, insulted or even ‘disrespected’ whatever that may mean, were te biggest backward step we have takedn in the post Enlightement period.

    Yet successive governents have kowtowed to the unelected representatives and self appointed spokespersons of a miriad of crackpot fantasist organisations operating under the cloak of multicultural e moral quivalence.

    As long as the UK has CoE bishops in the legislature, and a head of state as its supreme representative, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  5. barriejohn says:

    I`m with Jumile on this one. I was a student in the 1960s and I do not recognize the scenario being described by Paul one little bit. In fact, I am absolutely shocked! To return to my original, tongue-in-cheek statement, what hope is there for the future if the students of today, instead of having open, inquiring minds, are already narrowminded, doctrinaire and bigotted? I had no idea whatsoever that things were like this, and I feel quite depressed about it to be honest!!

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