Monday, March 21, 2016
London School of Economics Islamic Society holds segregated dinner with a curtain across the room to separate male and female students
The Islamic society at a top university has come under fire for holding a gala dinner where men and women were segregated from one another by a screen running down the middle of the room.
Muslim students from the London School of Economics had to buy separate tickets to the society's annual dinner depending on whether they were a 'brother' or a 'sister'.
When they turned up at the event, held at a banqueting hall in Central London, there was a large screen separating the men's tables from the women's ones, stopping the attendees from even looking at each other.
Tickets to the Islamic society dinner at Grand Connaught Rooms, near the university in Holborn, sold out after being advertised online for £20 each.
One attendee posted this photograph of a man and woman talking to each other around the screen with the caption, 'Hello from the brothers side', a reference to Adele's song Hello. There is no suggestion that either person photographed is an extremist
The tickets were sold separately to 'brothers' and 'sisters', with two different phone numbers to call for men and for women.
At the dinner on Sunday night, each table was either male-only or female-only, and a 7ft screen divided the two groups of tables from one another.
Photographs taken at the event and posted online by the society showed only the men's side, with the all-male crowd laughing and smiling for the camera.
One attendee even made a joke of the segregation, posting a picture of himself peering round the screen to talk to a female friend with the caption, 'Hello from the brothers side' - a reference to Adele's hit Hello.
Nona Buckley-Irvine, the head of LSE's student union and a self-professed feminist, attended the dinner and insisted that the atmosphere was 'comfortable and relaxed' despite the gender divide.
'I had a lovely time at the dinner and barely noticed the separation between men and women,' she told MailOnline.
'The event was hosted by both the brothers and sisters and I welcomed the opportunity to dine with my colleagues and friends in an environment that felt comfortable and relaxed.'
She added: 'Where groups would like to organise themselves in a way that fits with their religious, cultural and personal beliefs, both genders consent, and there is no issue I have no problem.
'It is not for me to decide what is right or wrong with our Islamic society and they are one of the most inclusive societies I have ever worked with.'
However, other students have spoken out against the segregation - saying it has 'intimidated' some Muslims who want to celebrate their faith without the strict gender divide.
'It's been going on for quite a while,' one LSE undergraduate said. 'I don't think it's ever been brought to the university's attention.
'I have a friend who says she's really intimidated because she doesn't believe in gender segregation at all so she stopped going.'
The Islamic society said in a statement: 'Our annual dinner was checked and approved by all necessary staff within the student union.'
One of the students attending the dinner, Rayhan Uddin, was recently embroiled in an anti-semitism row after he claimed that 'leading Zionists' were trying to take control of an election.
Mr Uddin, vice-chair of LSE's Labour society, urged another candidate to withdraw in order to avoid handing power to students who 'want to win back LSE and make it right wing and Zio again'.
The word 'Zio' is short for Zionist, and is often used as an anti-semitic slur. Mr Uddin apologised for his use of the term.
The incident is the latest in the string of controversies relating to Islamic societies at universities in London and elsewhere in the UK.
Last year students at Goldsmiths tried to shut down a talk by a human rights activist because of her 'bigoted' views, while a number of institutions have hosted speakers who have expressed extremist beliefs.
In addition, concerns have been raised about how several London students, including the ISIS executioner known as 'Jihadi John', apparently became radicalised during their time at university.
The segregated dinner at LSE could be a violation of the university's policy on gender equality, which states that any form of segregation must be 'entirely voluntary'.
The policy says: 'We regard gender segregation at events organised in or by LSE or the LSE community as contrary to the law, except for certain exceptions such as occasions of religious worship or where segregation is entirely voluntary.'
The Islamic society, which is funded by a number of outside organisations promoting Islamic-oriented education and Arabic learning, claims to have hundreds of members at LSE.
Members attend lectures, social events and sporting gatherings, including a recent conference debating the rise of ISIS in the Middle East.
LSE, whose alumni include Mick Jagger, Ed Miliband, Stelios Haji-Ioannou and 16 Nobel Prize winners, is considered one of the leading universities in Britain, and was recently ranked as the best in the country other than Oxford and Cambridge.
The university has come under fire in recent years for allegedly restricting its students' free speech - the rugby society was disbanded for being sexist, some tabloid newspapers were banned from the campus, and the atheist society was reprimanded for wearing T-shirts showing Jesus holding hands with Muhammad.
A spokesman for LSE said today: 'This dinner was a private function, off-campus and organised by a society of the Students' Union, which itself is a legally separate body to LSE. The School is raising this issue with the society and Students' Union.'
The company which runs Grand Connaught Rooms declined to comment.
UK: Parents pull children out of primary school in outrage at planned 'transgender day' for children as young as FOUR
Parents have pulled their children out of classes at a village primary school over a 'transgender day' planned for pupils as young as four.
Three families have revealed they will not allow their children to St Mary the Virgin Primary School in Hartfield, East Sussex, for the classes, which are meant to help the pupils 'explore' their sexuality.
Up to 10 others have also spoken out about their concerns about the plans, which were announced on Monday by headteacher Emma Maltby.
One mother, who asked not to be named, said the children should be 'left alone'. She said: 'I don't want my daughter being exposed to all this nonsense. 'Kids need to be left alone when it comes to things like this, they just want to run around the playground not be told they need to "think differently" about gender issues. 'The whole thing is ridiculous and I hope the head gets the message and scraps it.'
Another parent, who also wished to remain anonymous, said there was 'great unease' among parents. She told the East Grinstead Courier: 'Some parents have announced their intention to keep their children from school on at least one day. 'Parents have said that they feel the welfare of their children is under threat from the instructions given in this document.'
The classes, based on the Brighton-based Allsorts Youth Project, were proposed by the school in a bid to 'empower young people'.
The Allsorts website states that it creates a 'safe space for trans and gender questioning children', and allows kids to 'explore and be themselves'. It also says the programme will give kids 'a chance to meet other trans/gender questioning children', as well as taking part in 'fun games'.
Ms Maltby defended her decision to hold the 'transgender day' before the Easter holidays, saying it was important to raise gender issues. She said: 'As part of the national curriculum, we spend time talking to the children about British values of tolerance, respect and celebrating differences.
'One of the areas we will be discussing shortly is gender identity and we felt that it was important to involve parents in their child's learning by holding an information session.
'We have had a very positive response to the event and the opportunity to learn more about this relevant topic, although three families have chosen to withdraw their children from school.'
She added that the school tried to give pupils a 'well-rounded education', which would help them 'become responsible, independent people able to respect others'.
Student Fascists trash Australian Senator's office
Violence is never far beneath the surface among the Left. Note that the banner calls for something to be "smashed". Just naked hate. Trotskyites use that word a lot
THE “full force of the law” should be brought to bear on protesters who trashed Senator Cory Bernardi’s office and targeted his children’s school, he says.
The university students and high-school pupils, who were protesting against his opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program and ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, engaged in abuse, vandalism and threats.
Both Flinders and Adelaide universities released statements condemning the action.
Branding the protesters “a bunch of cowards”, Senator Bernardi labelled the fracas a form of intolerance and intimidation that only “strengthened his resolve”.
He said: “They also headed down to my children’s school and sought to target it as well. They had to lock gates and take other preventive measures.
“If peaceful protests turn into violent and damaging protests the people responsible for that need to be held to account. “I’m happy for the full force of the law to be brought upon those who’ve done property damage and threatened my staff.”
Police reported one man for graffiti damage to a road sign and are reviewing CCTV evidence from the scene.
About 20 students — from Adelaide and Flinders universities, UniSA and high schools — occupied the Grenfell St office at noon and scrawled abusive messages on the outside walls and veranda.
They also overturned tables and chairs, wrote messages in chalk on the carpet and chanted slogans such as “racist, sexist, anti-queer, Bernardi is not welcome here”.
Senator Bernardi’s wife, Sinead, and staffers retreated into other rooms.
Once police arrived, the students went outside, knocking over a fence on their way and leaving paper and rubbish strewn around the office. One sign read: “Eat rainbow, bigot.”
Senator Bernardi tweeted: “What a bunch of cowards. Lefty totalitarians have trashed my office and threatened my staff because their agenda has been exposed.”
Tom Gilchrist, Adelaide University’s Student Representative Council president and several other SRC members from the socialist group Student Voice were among the protesters.
They included SRC ethno-cultural officer Angelo Tavlaridis, who was last year banned from campaigning on campus after allegedly calling one female student a “c ...” and another a “bitch”.
One of Senator Bernardi’s employees, Adelaide University Union board member Robert Katsambis, then passed censure motions against Mr Tavlaridis’ behaviour and Mr Gilchrist’s failure to condemn it.
Mr Gilchrist defended the protesters’ actions on Friday, saying the damage was “completely superficial, paper and chalk — things that can be cleaned off easily”.
“This is nothing compared to the damage being done to LGBTI people,” he said of the Federal Government’s decision to “gut” the Safe Schools program, announced on Friday shortly after the protest.
“That is the really disgusting thing.”
During the office protest, the students claimed they were heading to the school because it was where Senator Bernardi was educated. Mr Gilchrist later said they had not caused any disturbance at the school. “We put up the banner and walked away,” he said.
Senator Bernardi was a vocal critic of Safe Schools, a program to prevent bullying on gender and sexuality grounds. He said the program was intimidating, indoctrinating, and bullying children by picking on heterosexual children.
Pressure from backbenchers forced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce a review of the program. Tensions over the issue heated this week to the point where Queensland MP George Christensen tried to link the program to paedophilia and started a petition calling for a full inquiry.
On Friday, the Government released the review and announced a compromise, radically altering the way the program works but saying it would remain in place.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said review author Professor Bill Lowden, an education expert, found some content was “not necessarily appropriate for all children”.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:36 AM