This is bizarre. The Atheist Society of Calgary was all set to have ex-Muslim Armin Navabi give a talk at Mount Royal University yesterday, but the school decided to cancel the talk out of sensitivity to Muslims following the terrorist attack in New Zealand.
“In light of the shooting last week and the responses to the event we have received from students and staff, we are going to have to cancel hosting your event with Armin on campus on Thursday,” reads an email from the school’s interfaith coordinator since posted to social media.
Navabi may be controversial, but there’s no reason to think his talk would have been disrespectful or insensitive toward the victims of the attack. There’s a difference between criticizing religion and going after religious people.
He didn’t understand the decision, either.
“What do they want? Do you want to have less conversation? Isn’t less conversation exactly what leads to people having extreme radical positions,” said Navabi,“I mean the less words exchanged between us, the more fists and bullets are going to exchange between people. Having more conversations is exactly what you need in the face of some tragedy like this.“
Perhaps the better question is: When is the right time to challenge Islam? Or any religious ideology, for that matter? When does the post-terror moratorium come to an end?
The truth is there’s no nice time for an atheist to give a talk about the problems with religion without some people getting upset about it. Our very existence is offensive to them.
The school said it was acting out of respect to Muslims and that “we would absolutely have the speaker come to our campus at another time”… but they didn’t say when that would be. Their statement has the effect of treating criticism of Islam as equivalent to hate speech. That’s a mistake that prevents students from hearing an important voice. They were always welcome to ask questions about anything he said. The school saw to it that they wouldn’t get that chance.
Navabi was able to give his talk at a different venue. Still, it shouldn’t have come to that. The university owes students a better explanation of why they cancelled his talk and what the rules are regarding lectures moving forward.
(Screenshot via YouTube)