CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

Free speech laws will not protect those who call for genocide

Freedom of Speech
15 December 2023
University 0

The first director appointed by the Office for Students to oversee free speech at universities, Prof Arif Ahmed, has said that free speech laws will not protect those who call for genocide or speech that incites violence.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Prof Ahmed said, ‘Under no circumstances is there any possibility that any speech that amounts to illegal harassment, any speech that stirs up racial hatred, calls for genocide, none of those could possibly be protected under any circumstances by this legislation, by our complaints scheme.”

The complaints scheme has been introduced by the Office of Students for students, staff and visiting speakers to utilise if they felt a university, college or students’ union had not adequately protected their free speech.

The scheme will launch in August 2024, and will only review incidents that have occurred on or after that date.

The warning from the Prof Ahmed was sparked after a number of pro-Palestinian protests at UK and US universities have caused controversy.

From Oxford academics submitting a motion to the local University College Union branch calling for “intifada until victory” – which was later cancelled by the university over “serious legal concerns”, to a booklet praising the actions of Hamas handed out at a Bristol University protest.

With the new complaints scheme, universities and colleges will need to uphold free speech duties.

A Universities UK spokesman said: “Freedom of speech and academic freedom sit right at the heart of universities’ purpose, and the sector takes its responsibility to protect and promote them extremely seriously.

“It is crucial that the Office for Students and the sector as a whole works together to ensure that everyone on campus feels able to share their lawful views and opinions without fear of censorship.”

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news in Freedom of Speech

Microsoft Teams image 18

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and expression are vital, democratic liberties. As Christians, we should uphold them for the benefit of all people.

Find out more about the cause