MDI Press Releases

Conway Hall cancels hall booking for debate event with Tommy Robinson, head of the English Defence League

MDI regretfully announces that the venue for our public debate with Tommy Robinson on ‘Islam and Islamophobia: which is a threat to Britain?’  – the Conway Hall – has cancelled our booking for 4th October 2012.

Conway Hall, has decided based upon advice from the Police, and under pressure from various anti-fascist organisations and at least one MP, that the event may put the public at risk to public health and safety concerns under the current climate. Despite the security procedures of MDI within the building, the Venue Director was concerned about the safety of attendees outside the hall when going to, and leaving the event. Therefore, Conway Hall has informed Muslim Debate Initiative that for the time being, they will have to cancel the hire of the hall to MDI for this public event.

We regret the decision of Conway Hall to not allow MDI at this time to host Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League as part of an open public debate.

We at Muslim Debate Initiative believe strongly in the need for debate, as a means to discuss and express intellectual and political difference of opinion, and thereby facilitate the public to reach a educated conclusion and judgement upon any matter. MDI believe that there should be no limits to what can be sincerely debated, and no restrictions as to what intellectual or political position can be enunciated for the deliberation of the public and the pursuit of truth and clarity.

It should be noted that both the Police, and the Conway Hall agreed that there were no perceived threats of disruption coming from the Muslim community. Rather, it is MDI’s experience that the Muslim community overwhelmingly welcome such debates, and are eager for such open and frank discussions to occur. MDI feel that the Muslim community, and the wider community are being denied the chance to openly debate the real issues and express their worldviews freely, for the purpose of seeking a real solution to the current issues we face. It seems that open debate and discussion is being straight-jacketed into only the approved discourse which pervades accepted mainstream political discussion. We feel that to seek real solutions, the only way forward should be for people to express, debate and prove their intellectual, confessional and political standpoints, no matter how controversial,  .

MDI has a proud history of both mainstream and controversial debates, with mainstream and controversial speakers, which were conducted civilly and respectfully but frankly and robustly.

MDI will continue its commitment to initiate open, frank and robust debate, and push the boundaries of intellectual and political discourse.

To see the official statement by Conway Hall, and contact that them with any Press queries, please click here:

Members of the Press can get into contact with MDI here.

Muslim Debate Initiative

Categories: MDI Press Releases, MDI UK

14 replies »

  1. If as your Press Release alleges the Muslim community were not perceived as a threat and your Clarification piece states that the UAF were not responsible for the cancellation perhaps you would like to explain exactly who you feel are behind the cancellation of your event. Your press release appears to be contrary to the reason you gave to Tommy for the cancellation of the event. I would also like to add that the EDL would not have been perceived as a threat as any EDL attending would not have caused any problems.

    • Dear Helen,

      Our e-mailed correspondence with Tommy did not mention the UAF as the reason for the cancellation, but we concede that members of the UAF have been involved, and are supportive of Conway Hall’s cancellation.

      Our Press release did not say the EDL were a threat to the event, the statement and link to Conway Hall’s statement makes clear the events. We think the Police Inspector who gave the security advice to Conway Hall, may have been overly apprehensive about global events. Muslims have not reacted violently in the UK (or the USA). Furthermore, it would not make sense for Muslims and the EDL to engage in violence and disrupt an event where they both are being given a fair chance to express themselves.

  2. Victory! Conway Hall have pulled the proposed ‘debate between the Muslim Debating Initiative and Tommy Robinson. Well done all anti fascists and Frank Dobson MP, for paitiently saying to Conway Hall and the MDI, that the likes of the Edl are beyond respectable debate. Many people from Ken Livingsone, Michael Rosen, Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and countless trades unionists eg Camden Trades Council and PCS branches locally, argued that to cancel the Edl was the right thing to do. Let the message go out, No Platforming fascists like the Edl, if done on a broad basis, is a principled weapon for anti fascists…see you in Walsall, this Saturday! (taken from Unite Against Fascism Fb page) UAF had everything to do with this cancellation. The least you can do is admit it.

    • As predicted by Winston Churcill many years ago we now see that the real fascists and enemies of free speech masquerade as anti fascists in this case the UAF and their friends in low places like Frank Dobson MP.

    • it’s depressing (but not surprising) that anyone would think banning people whose views they disagree with is in any way ‘principled’ – but wait, Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation supports it! Argument over I guess.

  3. Totally disagree with you Sara, what a victory for repression. I utterly loathe the EDL and all they stand for but by blocking a debate you have put another nail in the coffin of free speech. It’s not like this was an opportunity for him to spout his nonsense unopposed, in fact the whole point surely, was to be able to question him and put forward other ideas and points of view. I am ashamed of people like you, deciding what’s best for people. If the EDL were happy to go ahead and the MDI were happy to go ahead, who made you god?

    • That victory post was taken from Unite Against Fascism Fb page. I wholly supported the debate and look forward to receiving the details of the rescheduled event.

  4. Typical tactics of the UAF and their fascist supporters, doing the dirty work for those in power and keeping the ‘plebs’ controlled and ‘in their place’.

    Islam has nothing to fear from the EDL and vice versa. Debate is essential between them, but the extreme far left can never allow this to happen as they have too much to lose.

    Whilst I’m no fan of Islam or religion in general, Muslim’s need to understand that it is not the EDL bombing and killing them in their homelands but the very people the UAF keep in government and support.

    The British Freedom Party / EDL would leave Muslim lands to sort their own affairs and end the bloodshed. That alone is worthy of debate!

  5. When I refer to Muslim’s, by the way, I refer to peaceful Muslims. There is still the issue of Islamic Extremism and radicalisation, but that should form part of a debate too. That’s an issue that needs addressing from all sides and one that cannot be ignored or excused.

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