Objectors fail to block controversial speakers at LSE debate

More than 100 UK-based German students and academics have signed an open letter objecting to the choice of panellists for a debate at the London School of Economics later today.

February 14, 2011

The “Integration Debate: Europe’s Future – ‘Decline of the West’?”, which opens a week-long German Symposium at the LSE, will feature Thilo Sarrazin, a banker and author, and Henryk M. Broder, a journalist, who according to the letter argue that “there exists a pathological unwillingness among minorities in Germany (in particular Muslims) to integrate into society”.

The letter continues: “The stigmatization of certain social groups by Mr Sarrazin threatens social harmony and social cohesion…Both warn of an allegedly looming Islamization of Europe and thereby join a group of Islamophobic publicists and politicians across the continent.”

Rather than giving “a prominent platform” to “the polemical, socially divisive and non-scientific theses of Mr Sarrazin and Mr Broder”, it concludes, the LSE’s German Society “should aim to represent a modern, progressive and open-minded Germany, which is fit to face the challenges of the 21st century”.

The German Society responded to the concerns with a statement of commitment to freedom of speech, saying that it has “invited prominent figures from all spheres of public life in Germany” and is “hoping for an open discussion without thought control”.

A spokesman for the LSE added that, although it is not an event run by LSE itself, it is to be held on LSE premises, so the school’s Code of Practice applies.

“Accordingly, when complaints [about Dr Sazzarin] were received which raised issues of free speech, the school’s Free Speech Group was asked to give its opinion,” he said.

“It was clear that the views of the proposed speaker would be regarded by many as offensive. LSE does not set out to offend others, nor does it encourage its student societies to do so. However, judging the case on its merits, the Free Speech Group decided that the likelihood that offence would be caused was not in itself a reason to prevent the event from going ahead.”

The debate is due to take place at 6pm today at the LSE’s Hong Kong Theatre.

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

Elly Walton illustration (25 August 2016)

Treating students as consumers has precipitated a rush to the bottom to give them exactly what they want, says John Warren

Superhero costumes hanging on a washing line

Senior management do not recognise support staff’s pivotal role in achieving positive student outcomes, administrators say

Man photocopying a book

Students think it ‘unfair’ to be punished for unintentional plagiarism

to write students’ assessed essays in return for cash

Vic Boyd was on the lookout for academic writing opportunities. What she found was somewhat less appetising...