Gender Segregation at UCL: A plea for Muslim womens’ rights

This post is for all of you out there: everyone can learn something from this. Whether you be an advocate for human rights or female rights. Whether you are an advocate for justice. Whether you are interested in deepening your understanding on the current media, and how events and ideas can easily be distorted and misrepresented within it.

On Saturday the 9th of March, I attended an event at University College London discussing Islam and Atheism, and an incident occurred before the event with one of the speakers, Professor Lawrence Krauss. In the article below, one female who attended the event like myself gives her side of the story-which unfortunately is not being acknowledged by the mainstream media. It’s an important read and really highlights clearly what happened, as well as giving the reader another outlook. Please read and share:

Gender Segregation at UCL

University College London recently hosted a debate titled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” featuring Professor Lawrence Krauss, an eminent atheist, and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a lecturer on Islam. During the debate, a minor incident occured pertaining to the seating arrangements which has since been bizzarely inflated. At the beginning of the debate the Professor made a huge spectacle concerning the way a section of the audience was segregated. The auditorium had a mixed gender section, a male section and a female section. This was not enforced and was done to cater for everyone’s social etiquettes.

On the 11th of March UCL released a statement saying that they will not allow the Islamic Education and Research Academy to hold any events on their premises. This is a highly disappointing response from such a prominent university. ‘Equal opportunities’ was cited as the reason for this decision. Hence this begs the question: why have the rights of the women involved not been taken into account? Especially since this decision violates a woman’s right to conscientiously-held beliefs.

It is no secret that there exists a Western assumption that Muslim women are subjugated or oppressed and therefore in need of liberation. Ironically in this situation, the perennial excuse of ‘liberating Muslim women’ surfaced, when it was in fact the Muslim women themselves who requested separate seating arrangements. The definition of oppression is to exercise control over another person - which is exactly what Professor Krauss did when he forced the women to sit beside men when they did not want to!  So who is the real oppressor here? A quote from Malcom X comes to mind:

"If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing".

Furthermore, I would like to point out that enforced segregation is completely different to reserving an area to make some participants feel more comfortable, which is what the organisation did. If someone would like to sit separately out of choice, why should this not be allowed? As a woman, I choose not to mix freely with men and this should be respected. It is very disappointing that people have not questioned this, and rather than ridicule Professor Krauss for his misogynistic behaviour, they have penalised iERA, an organisation that stood up for the women’s rights.

Professor Krauss has called upon his companion Richard Dawkins to write an article when he did not even attend the event, and had practically no knowledge of the event itself. An article that cannot be considered reliable has been published over numerous websites which shows that as long as you publicise something well, you don’t necessarily have to have the facts. One can’t help but wonder if this whole fiasco was created intentionally.

As someone who did attend the debate, I can tell you that Professor Krauss gave a very disappointing performance. When someone agrees to a debate on whether Islam is the correct way of life, wouldn’t you think that he would have read at least some books about Islam? He was asked during the debate whether or not he has read even one book on Shariah Law, he said that he had not. As a world renowned academic we expected more from him. We can all appreciate that if you are going to give a good intellectual argument then you would need to have knowledge on both subjects. This to me shows arrogance from his side. Hamza Tzortzis came fully prepared for the debate, even referencing from Professor Krauss’s own book, which meant that he came to the debate with knowledge and integrity. This does make you question how someone with so little knowledge on one of the major religions in the world, can have such a strong opposing view.

It is a common ploy to use a fabricated scandal to cover something up in order to divert people’s attention away from the real problems. In my opinion, this is what has happened here. When a world renowned academic, someone who is held in high-esteem by many, endorses a practise such as incest, yet people choose to focus on a trivial matter such as segregation, you know that there is something wrong.”

-Umm Sumayya

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  9. luminousabeer reblogged this from poeticislam and added:
    Does a woman not have a choice in regards to who she wants to sit next to?
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  14. tsukuyoomii said: I greatly thank you for sharing this situation. Unfortunately, ignorance and arrogance always have to make a lot of noise. Addressing this to Umm Sumayya: You write with a delicate and pretty feather in your hand. :)
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  20. wry-toast reblogged this from poeticislam and added:
    I’m so glad I found someone who could say it better than I can.
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