London. On Friday 13th February 2015, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) in partnership with advocacy group CAGE, held their inaugural ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ event entitled ‘The Big Question: How Free is Speech?’
Held at the state-of-the-art Blizard Building at Queen Mary University of London’s Whitechapel campus, the discussion was well attended with a diverse audience of more than 300 people, which included academics, students, medical professionals, journalists, politicians, and community leaders of all faiths and none.
Inevitably, there were some heated discussions between the panellists, who differed in their views on the objectives and application of free speech in light of the unfortunate Charlie Hebdo incident that took place last month. Other themes explored included the media satirising religion and the war on terror.
Most importantly, these topics and opinions which many on the panel and in the audience found distasteful were discussed in a civilised, polite and compassionate manner. There were no incidents of any speaker or member of the audience being warned by the chair for their behaviour or language.
‘The Big Question: How Free is Speech?’ event fulfilled the main objective of the ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ campaign, and that is to facilitate a platform where people of faith and none can have a nuanced discussion about the concept of freedom of speech, and the inflammatory caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace).
iERA and CAGE would like to thank Yvonne Ridley, Dan Hodges, Andre Walker, Professor Peter Cave, Moazzam Begg, Abdullah Al Andalusi, and Hamza Tzortzis for participating in this unique cross-panel discussion.
Following yesterday’s shootings at a free speech event outside a Copenhagen synagogue, iERA feel that it is imperative that people from all walks of life support the ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ campaign, in a coordinated effort to create a more cohesive and tolerant society.
As such, iERA and CAGE would like to announce that the next ‘The Big Question’ event under the ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ campaign will be held in Birmingham over the coming months, and will be rolled out to other major towns and cities, thereafter to bring people from all over the UK together in solidarity and positive dialogue.
For more information on the ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ campaign or ‘The Big Question: How Free is Speech?’ event, please visit Don’t Hate, Debate or contact IERA on:
IERA Media and Press Office
Suite 321, Crown House Business Centre,
North Circular Road,