So people were out demonstrating yesterday, on what happened to be Human Rights Day. Quite fitting, methinks.
The universities want the option to allow gender segregation during speaking lectures from 'outside' speakers, if those 'ultra-orthodox' speakers happen to request it. 'Ultra-orthodox', of course, is just a p.c. reference to Islamists, because they're pretty much the only ones who would. In fact, University College London had a bit of a controversy back in March, 2013 when a debate between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, organized by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), ended up with Krauss walking out when he noticed the lecture hall had been gender segregated. The organization was banned from any future events, but obviously other universities think it's a grand idea- to separate men and women.
More here on the protests.
Obviously there are some who think it's a grand idea. Camillia Khan, Head of Communications at FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies), had this to say about gender segregation:
The term 'segregation' denotes discrimination and isolation - and this couldn't be further from the general reality. There needs to be a linguistic shift in the discourse - but more importantly, the shift must be an ideological one which accepts that there exist differences based on sound spirituality, and these need to be embraced, led by brave and nuanced organisations such as Universities UK. Male and female seating is a simple religious manifestation that has been established for multiple millennia and is one that is still actively implemented today by many churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious communities. Taking away the basic freedom to choose a room arrangement from mature and democratically elected student groups such as Islamic societies will only seek to alienate Muslim students from social engagement by denying their right to religious freedom.No, they don't need to be embraced. There is a major difference between public education institutions and religious institutions. If you want to sit in the back of the mosque (or synagogue) by all means do so, we have no say over what happens on private religious property. But universities, forget it. If they want segregation go to Al Azhar in Egypt or universities in Iran or Saudi Arabia where that's common practice, those universities will be happy to accommodate them. They should feel right at home. Stay out of Western, secular universities.