Exciting scenes arose at the Queen Margaret Union this evening as protest groups arrived to raise complaints about two different lectures taking place within the building’s third floor committee rooms.
The first of these was the Feminist Society who came to raise issue with a lecture by the Student Socialist Workers Society on feminism and the liberation of women. The SSWS’ parent organisation – the Socialist Worker’s Party – has received negative coverage for its treatment of rape and sexual harassment allegations within the party. Fem Soc members handed out literature to students attending the meeting emblazoned with the words “BE AWARE, AVOID THE SWP”.
Said literature then went on to highlight the controversial history the SWP has with women, stating that is “guilty of systematic sexism, silencing of assault victims, shaming of women, abusive and rapist senior party members and a dangerous environment for women”. They then went on to accuse the SWP of running “kangaroo courts” formed of the “accused’s friends”, as an obstruction to justice being served.
When qmunicate spoke to the members of Fem Soc who were handing out the literature they expanded on their concerns with student safety; stating that they “do not believe the SWSS is a safe environment for women to be in”. For them this “unsafe environment” is unsuitable to hold lectures on feminism and the liberation of women. A Fem Soc campaigner stated that the protest was relevant to students because “victims have included student members from across the UK”.
The second point of protest, and the one which cause the most stir in and around the Queen Margaret Union was due to Yiftah Curiel, a diplomat with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was scheduled to give a talk on his experiences in the Middle East for members of the Dialectic Society. In reaction to this, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) formed ranks outside the union with Palestinian flags and corresponding literature. Their reasoning for this move was due to the fact that Yiftah Curiel is the Press Officer for the Israeli Embassy in London, who the SPSC accuse of “whitewashing” the media of Palestinian problems. SPSC support denying a platform to Israel and its representatives.
Members of the SPSC also entered the building and tried to attend the lecture before being turned away as the debate was for members of the Dialectic society only. President of the society, Marc Fryer, gave the following statement to qmunicate: “We’re disappointed that the event was cancelled. We support the right to protest, but find it unfortunate that it denied students the opportunity to critically engage a high-profile representative, on such an important issue”.
The lecture in question was eventually cancelled as Yiftah Curiel was unable to make it to the lecture due to time problems with an earlier talk that he was giving to the European Society, that was also disrupted by SPSC protestors.