Brits are too polite and scared of offending 'vocal and aggressive Muslims', claims former Obama adviser

  • Professor Lawrence Krauss spoke out after debate at UCL last week
  • Islamic group tried to enforce segregation between men and women
  • Leading physicist threatened to walk out unless it was stopped
  • Suggested Brits were too polite to object to such practices

British society is scared of offending a 'vocal and aggressive' Muslims, claims a former adviser to Barack Obama.

Prof Lawrence Krauss made his comments after threatening to walk out of a debate hosted by an Islamic group at the University College London where organisers would not allow men and women to sit together.

The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) told women to sit at the back, while men and couples were sent to the front. Three people who objected were ordered to leave.

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Theoretical physicist and professor of physics Lawrence Krauss threatened to leave if men and women continued to be segregated

Action: University College London has banned one Muslim group after it found one group had demanded gender segregation

The public debate last week was on the subject ‘Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?’

Ignoring audience jeering, Prof Kraus told an organiser: ‘Either you quit the segregation or I’m not interested.’

He returned when staff allowed men and women to mix.

Prof Krauss suggested British people were often too polite to object to such practices.

'People are not only afraid to offend, but afraid to offend a vocal and aggressive group of people," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph

'There is a segment of the Islamic community that is very vocal about this.

'The notion that these cultural norms should be carried out within a broader society that … is free and open is a serious problem.'

He added that he had not experienced such problems at a similar debate in Australia.

One women said she felt uncomfortable sitting among the men.

Hardline Islam groups, have posted invitations on social media sites and at university campuses to public talks in an 'unprecedented scale', according to Sharia Watch UK. Activist Hamza Tzortzis is named in the report

Prof Krauss said he respected her feelings but added: 'You are in a public arena and not in a mosque.'

He said: 'The notion that because these cultural norms make some people feel uncomfortable in broader society, that broader society should accommodate that discomfort, is nonsense.

'It is the obligation of people who don't feel comfortable with that to decide how they are going to mesh with broader society, not the other way around.'

Audience member Dana Sondergaard later wrote on her Facebook page: ‘After watching three people be kicked out of the auditorium . . . Dr Krauss bravely defended his beliefs of gender equality.’

iERA spokesman Saleem Chagtai insisted men and women ‘naturally’ separate in ‘normal Islamic events’. He said: ‘There were a number of ladies who used their free will and didn’t want to sit with the opposite sex.’

UCL issued a statement saying iERA would never be allowed to hold events on its grounds again.

A page from the Islamic Education and Research Academy website, which has photographs of its male speakers but none for the female speakers

Mr Chagtai later told MailOnline: 'In all normal Islamic events people will naturally often separate themselves: men with men and women with women.

'It is de rigueur, in a way that is not too dissimilar to practices in Orthodox Jewish communities.

'The issue that UCL had is that it it can't be enforced.  But because of the limited space of the auditorium, there were a number of ladies who used their free will and didn't want to sit with the opposite sex, so we needed to cater for that.'

He said iERA had been told by UCL that segregation was against their ethos, and had intended 'to stick to what they said in letter and spirit'.

Mr Chagtai said his organisation was now conducting an internal investigation into what happened on the day.

He added: 'We need to take their criticism like this very seriously.  We feel it's the honourable thing to do to see if there was anybody that influenced segregation on the day from our staff.'

Atheist writer Richard Dawkins called the segregation 'sexual apartheid' and called it a 'disgraceful epsiode'.

Writing on his blog, he said: 'University College London is celebrated as an early haven of enlightened free thinking, the first university college in England to have a secular foundation, and the first to admit men and women on equal terms. Heads should roll.

'Isn’t it really about time we decent, nice, liberal people stopped being so pusillanimously terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stood up for decent, nice, liberal values?'

UCL's press office issued a statement saying iERA would never again be allowed to hold events on the university's campuses.

It said: 'We do not allow enforced segregation on any grounds [but]... it now appears that, despite our clear instructions, attempts were made to enforce segregation at the meeting.

'We are still investigating what actually happened at the meeting but, given IERA’s original intentions for a segregated audience we have concluded that their interests are contrary to UCL’s ethos and that we should not allow any further events involving them to take place on UCL premises.'

VIDEO: Watch Professor Krauss storm out of the debate over seating segregation: 



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