Predictably, the right-wing press has seized on the dispute over so-called gender segregation at last Saturday’s iERA debate at UCL to further its “Islamisation of Britain” narrative.
The Daily Mail covers the story in detail (“University College London bans hard-line Islamic group which tried to segregate men and women at a debate held on university premises”), as does the Telegraph, which has interviewed Lawrence Krauss (“Britons afraid to challenge radical Islam, says former Obama adviser”). The latter paper also has a comment piece (“Even a right-on Obama advisor is shocked by Islamic sexism at UCL”) by Toby Young, who in recent years has become a something of a byword for dyspeptic right-wing bigotry.
By way of balance, here is another account from a Muslim woman of the altercation with the two atheists that led to Krauss threatening to walk out of the debate. She herself sat in the mixed-gender section of the audience – which, if you were to believe some of the reports of the iERA event, didn’t even exist. She writes:
“I attended the full debate and witnessed the full action! Upon arrival I went straight to the non-segregated seating and sat there with no questions asked! There were hundreds of seats that accommodated all attendees. Some Muslim girls wished to sit in a ‘Male Free’ area and that was there choice to be able to sit in a relaxed environment during the debate. What is said about females being forced to sit in the back is a lie! I am a Muslim fully covered girl and I sat in the front in the mixed area!
“What I still don’t understand is why the 2 man insisted on sitting literally between the Muslim women who clearly didn’t want that! … I think the 2 guys out of 325 attendees made a scene deliberately to create unnecessary tension between the audiences…. The organisers tried their best to accommodate everyone’s requests and so allocated the seats that will accommodate everyone. Clearly that was not enough for the 2 guys.”